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Friday, August 8, 2003
SportsNation: Underrated flicks

While Hollywood is busy churning out its usual cavalcade of crappy summer movies, SportsNation decided to reflect on the underappreciated classics.

In concert with Page 2's all-underrated week, we pitched in and showed a little love to lesser-known gems. Bill Simmons wrote, directed, produced and released his 12 Most Underrated Movies Of All Time, but even The Sports Guy left off a few favorites. We opened up the floor to SportsNation, and as usual, you answered the call.

SportsNation passed the props to the following flicks ...

Office Space
Office Space
Does your boss represent "all that is soulless and wrong" too?
Maybe you're not considering it underrated because it nets air time on Comedy Central but this is a classic low budget comedy with Jennifer Aniston as the girlfriend of a frustrated programmer deserves a spot on the list. Hilarity ensues as everyman hero Peter Gibbons gets promoted for not showing up work, his hardworking friends get "downsized" and together in their new roles, they decide to rip off the company. There are some unforgettable performances by the guy who steals a stapler and the old guy who flips out when he finds out he's being fired ... and subsequently he tries to kill himself.

As a former frustrated programmer this movie "spoke" to me. What makes this movie so great is the characters in it -- anyone who's ever suffered through life in a cubicle can relate.
John Clark
Indianapolis, Ind.

Beautiful Girls
It is a movie that you watch as a guy and can't help but think of your buddies. Some big names in this unappreciated flick (Uma Thurman, Lauren Holly, Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O'Donnell, David Arquette, Matt Dillon, Michael Rapaport and of course, Natalie Portman). Classic moment in cinema history -- the young Natalie Portman officially made a nation of males aged 18-35 into completely dirty old men. Every man thought, no one said it, but too many were rationalizing it alongside Timothy Hutton. Sweet Caroline sing-a-long. A boatload of classic quotes that have influenced my cronies' and my vernacular.
Shane Hoover

Sliding Doors
Maybe not the most -- but still hugely underrated -- a chick flick called "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah (the guy that played the idiot brother in the Mummy movies). A girl running for the subway barely misses the train. The movie splits into two lifelines -- one where she makes the train, and one where she misses ... OR ... one where she catches her boyfriend with another girl, one in which she doesn't. There are a few tremendous lines in there, shocking I think it somehow maintained a PG-13 rating. It's classic. If you have to sit through an English chick flick, leaves "Bridget Jones" in the dust.

Much of the list is great and accurate. Comment on Night Shift -- one of the great special effects of all time, actually made Shelley Long semi-hot. Maybe it was science fiction ... Another great Keaton flick -- Desperate Measures. Another underrated -- Judgment Night. All the cliches you can stomach, but Leary ROCKS.
Dave Parish

Amazon Women on the Moon
How many movies can claim this kind of cast, and only 1 out of every 20 people even know what it is:

Arsenio Hall ... Phil Hartman ... Michelle Pfeiffer ... Joe Pantoliano ... Joey "Don't Call Me John" Travolta ... David Alan Grier ... BB King ... Rosanna Arquette ... Steve Guttenberg ... Rip Taylor ... Slappy White ... Jackie Vernon ... Henny Youngman ... Ed Begley Jr. ... Kelly Preston ... Andrew Dice Clay ... Carrie Fisher.

It also earns bonus points because if you ask someone about the movie, they automatically assume that it's Skinemax fodder. It's one of the blessed few that actually gets funnier every single time you watch it.
Terre Haute

Rad captured Lori Loughlin before she and "Uncle Jesse" hit the big time.
The 1986 flick is underrated because it includes the following:

1. Bart Connor. Olympic Gymnast, Actor, Dancer. Makes thousands of julian fries. Is there anything that kid can't do?

2. Lori Loughlin. Before she was Rebecca on Full House, she was the #1 amateur female rider in America. With a penchant for underage boys and sweaters in June.

3. Bill Allen: Because everyone's UPS guy deserves to have a shot at stardom in a feature film. I think he and Mark Hamill hang out on the weekends.

4. Rod & Rex -- The GT Twins. They came, they danced, they wore matching space cadet jumpsuits replete with embroidered names without any knowledge that they would land a 97 on the UIC scale.

5. Didn't you always dream of dancing on bikes to "Send Me an Angel" in a high school gym? I know I did.

6. The motorcycle cop. Chasing those crazy kids across 40 ft tall piles of logs with the Casio synthesizer rockin' out in the background. Insert Krispy Kreme joke here.

7. "Hollywood" Mike Miranda bites it not once, but TWICE on HellTrack. Your one shot at glory and you blew it, twice. You go down like that in Hollywood, and odds are you're workin' for Hugh Grant.

8. The Kix cereal bowl. Kix. I think I saw them in concert once.
Glenn Burr
Dallas, Texas

Four Rooms
Absolutely brilliant. Stars Tim Roth (Tupac's white buddy in Gridlock'd) as a bellboy who, among other things, has his bodily fluids donated to a witch's cauldron, is puked on while he is stuck inside an open window, gets coerced into games involving people betting cars for their friends' fingers, suffers a stabbing, etc. etc. etc.

It has Antonio Banderas at his best, pre-child Madonna in a latex bodysuit, Kathy Griffin smoking dope and playing Sega Genesis, and too too many things for me to even name. The third sequence I honestly believe is the funniest thing ever put on film. I promise I've hardly spoiled anything.

Great concept too. Four writers/directors each with their own quarter of the movie. It all takes place on New Years night at a hotel, and Tim Roth finds himself in every room getting savaged by circumstance. He's amazing in this. The man's done Shakespeare, Rob Roy, this masterpiece, and is sadly most recently known for playing a frickin' evil primate general in the Planet of the Apes redux.

See Four Rooms. And love it.
Stephen Sherman
Iowa City, Iowa

River's Edge
A classic mid-80s tale of going-nowhere teens adrift in a sea of drugs, booze and murder. Starring Keanu Reeves (before he became inexplicably famous), Ione Skye (at her pouty-lipped finest) and Crispen Glover and Dennis Hopper competing to out-crazy each other. It features Hopper's classic description of the cycle crash that ripped off his leg: "I saw my leg laying there next to a beer can and I thought, 'I wonder if there's any beer in that can?'" Awesome.
Chris Inebnit
Goshen, Ind.

Pump Up The Volume
Christian Slater at his absolute best. As a lonely high school kid expressing his frustration over a pirated radio show. The ultimate anti-establishment movie. Seriously, it is an absolute must-see.
Dana Schulenburg
Syracuse, NY

Don't Tell Mom, The Babysitter's Dead
The movie that fits all of Bill's criteria (parents away for the summer, hilarious little brother, and great star performances) is Don't Tell Mom, The Babysitter's Dead. I knew going in that you weren't gonna get any Kelly-cleavage from Ms. Applegate, yet somehow the movie still flies. The quasi-stoner-metalhead little brother crew ripping bong hits...I mean, no way this movie gets made today. I'm amazed it didn't make Bill's list. "The dishes are DONE, man."
Telluride, Colo.

Catch Costner before he was Costner.

If you haven't seen this gem, starring Kevin Costner & Judd Nelson, you're missing a treat. The story line is four college friends having a last hurrah before one joins the military, and two have to meet their draft dates, at the end of the Vietnam War. The antics alone are enough to merit the list, but the story line is nothing short of excellent for anyone who remembers partying with their friends until the sun comes up. This has got to be a cult classic. Also stars Sam Robards, and a very young Marvin J. McIntyre, who flies a plane into downtown Dallas, using the highway to taxi to his destination. Two thumbs way up (while clutching a beer in each hand).
Jonathan Gilbreath
Houston, Texas

Some Kind of Wonderful
Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Craig Scheffer, Lea Thompson, John Ashton, etc. Girl falls for rich guy, then realizes poor dorky guy is better, all while tomboy pines for dorky guy . . . and it works in the end. Bonus points for the classic "dorky guy makes friends with the leather jacket rebel crowd to rough up the rich kids."
Gordon Sumner
Wausau, Wisc.

Amongst Friends
I nominate the seminal Long Island coming of age flick, "Amongst Friends." Directed by Shannon Doherty's ex-flame, Rob Weiss. This gem was supposedly paid for by Weiss' Dad, who swidled his business partners to pay for the expenses of the movie. It boasts a kick-ass soundtrack (Big Audio Dynamite) and is a guilty pleasure retelling of a Long Island version of Mean Streets. Great lines include the lovely Mira Sorvino's exasperation about her love interest's making his bones "on the killer streets of Hewlett Harbor." Captures the essence of snot nosed kids trying to live up to their Grandparent's gangster heritage. Has the funniest line about living on Long Island: "We don't get out here much, it's so Boooring!" Completely underrated performance by Joseph Lindsey as the Machavellian Billy (who sells out his best friend for Street Cred and Mira Sorvino) and David Stepkin (Louie's stones). The performace of Mira Sorvino rates similar to your comments about Decaprio in "This Boy's Life" in that Sorvino hadn't Jumped The Shark at this moment.
Sean Conley
San Diego

Red Dawn
B-Team Breakfast Club meets Rambo. An 80's All-Star cast of Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey & Lea Thompson. And Powers Boothe as a good guy? Wolverines!

Bottle Rocket
If you want to see what everyone else sees in Owen and Luke Wilson, see this. Wes Anderson directed this before he went on to direct Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums and it is in Bottle Rocket where he allows his and Owen Wilson's offbeat sense of humor to roam free. It's the story of a man who gets released from a mental institution and gets caught up in the criminal plans of his friend, but the comedy does not detract from the story. As if that isn't enough, the soundtrack is a perfect complement and the film has an indie look and feel to it -- and then suddenly James Caan is in it! Fantastic movie all around.
Brendan Hanlon
Providence, RI

The Coen Brothers' "Big Lebowski" was given plenty of SportsNation props.
The Big Lebowski
The best the Coen Bros. have produced. It's got immortal characters (the Jesus, the Dude, the Big Lebowski, the Nihilists, etc.). Fantastic dialogue. A great mystery. It's hilarious from start to finish. Goodman and Bridges are at their absolute zenith...which is not saying much for Goodman, I know.

This is my personal favorite movie of the last decade. I feel lucky to have seen it in the theatres, as it only lasted a week or two. It's gotten a mild cult following since then (which does break one of the rules) but not enough to put it in the "Cult Classics" aisle at Blockbuster. 75% of the time when I mention it I get the "Yeah, I really need to see that" line. The other 25% percent of the time, I meet a fan of the Dude who has placed it in his personal favorites list. IMDB has it in the top 250...that probably takes away from the level of underratedness but who cares. It's the best of the best, and only a fraction of the community at large has seen it.
Curtis Fulk
Indianapolis, Ind.

Quick Change
The most underrated movie of the last 15 years. Bill Murray at his best, with Randy Quaid and Geena Davis running shotgun. Hilarious.
Brandon Priddy
Nashville, Tenn.

And finally ... the movie we received the most email about. The movie that appears to have slipped under the radar the furthest ... Boondock Saints. It came out in 1999 but was shelved because the release date and storyline coincided a little too closely with the Columbine massacre. It's the story of two fraternal twins, Conner and Murphey MacMannus, who are on a mission from God to rid Boston of crime. However, instead of signing up for the police force, these hard-drinking Irish-American brothers take the law into their own hands. Heralded as saints by the city's beleaguered residents, the brothers also attract the attention of Paul Smecker (played by William Defoe), the openly gay FBI special agent assigned to investigate the spate of killings amongst the ranks of the Russian mafia. Now out on DVD. ...

The Boondock Saints
Bill, you gotta love this one for a few reasons. A: meets all your criteria (see the exception below), B: it's set in Boston, and C: the Irish song during the opening credits can be played over and over either while drinking or until you feel in the mood to have a couple beers. What's not to like so far?

It's got David Della Rocca (hilarious), Sean Patrick Flanery before he made that crappy movie about a restaurant with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Norman Reedus before his role opposite Wesley Snipes in Blade II. Now there is a sequel in production right now apparently, but since the original was never released in the U.S., I think we have a reasonable exception that can be made. Very few people have seen it, but after you do, you can nod in approval with even just a mention of the title.

All I can say is when you sit down to watch it with a few cocktails it only means one thing. Good times.
Jake Hagelow
Chicago, Ill.