Award winners they are not, but here are the five best sports movies made in Florida

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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When it comes to sports movies, we’d like to say Florida is no slouch. Sadly, this great movie line pretty much sums up the situation.

“Don’t sell yourself short, judge, you’re a tremendous slouch.”

It was spoken by Ty Webb, aka Chevy Chase, in the one movie that puts Florida ahead of such states as Nebraska and North Dakota on the movie-making scale. Considering the weather, scenery and population, Florida punches way below its cinematic weight.

We’ve taken a few pretty good swings. Such renowned thespians as Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and Emmitt Smith have used Florida as a soundstage.

Their efforts never led to any Academy Awards, but some are worth a look, especially if you like the thought of America’s biggest party being crashed by a bomb-laden blimp. Here are the best five sports films of a so-so lot.

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5. 'Any Given Sunday'

Al Pacino is a pro coach who tries to quell the tensions of bickering teammates (Jamie Foxx and LL Cool J) in "Any Given Sunday."

After solving the JFK assassination, Oliver Stone decided to do a movie about an aging coach, an overbearing owner, a cocky quarterback and the venality of big-time sports. He lured A-listers like Pacino, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx into lead roles in this 1999 film.

The social commentary wasn’t nearly as memorable as the overblown football stunts. After almost three hours of it, audiences needed to be put in concussion protocol.

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The games were staged at the Orange Bowl and what was then called Pro Player Stadium. For crowd scenes, Stone used a few thousand students from area schools and cardboard cutouts. He moved them around so the stadiums would look full. Maybe the real-life Dolphins and Jaguars should try that.

4. 'The Waterboy'

A college waterboy (Adam Sandler, with Henry Winkler) finally gets in the game as a football wunderkind in "The Waterboy."

Adam Sandler played a 31-year-old mentally challenged water boy at the University of Louisiana who was fired by a dirty, low-down coach (a character not based on ex-UL coach Billy Napier). "The Waterboy" ends up at lowly South Central Louisiana State, becomes the team’s star linebacker, irons out all sorts of child trauma issues, meets a girl and faces those UL sons-of-guns in the climactic Bourbon Bowl.

Naturally, the good guys won and the waterboy lived happily ever after.

The 1998 movie was filmed around Central Florida and had cameos from such football guys as Lawrence Taylor, Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson and Lee Corso. It was developed from a “Saturday Night Live” skit. This one was no “Wayne’s World,” but it raked in $186 million at the box office.

It also garnered Sandler a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for worst actor. Critics apparently didn’t believe he was much of a linebacker.

3. 'Black Sunday'

The movie poster alone made this one an eye-catcher. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the Goodyear blimp crashing into the Super Bowl?

All the screenwriters needed was a semi-plausible plot to set up that final scene. It involved a wacko blimp pilot, Palestinian terrorists and an intrepid secret agent trying to stop the 1976 Super Bowl from turning into Hindenburg II.

The NFL went along, allowing producers to film part of the movie during the 1976 Super Bowl at the Orange Bowl. Spoiler alert: Lynn Swann was named MVP, but Robert Shaw really saved the day.

2. 'Days of Thunder'

This 1990 Tom Cruise star vehicle had him crashing and bashing NASCAR vehicles. Think “Top Gun" meets “Talladega Nights,” complete with a cameo by Richard Petty.

Cruise played young hotshot “Cole Trickle,” which sounds like a cliché until you realize NASCAR really had a driver named Dick Trickle. Cruise’s character in "Days of Thunder" overcomes a head injury with the help of 22-year-old neurosurgeon Nicole Kidman, who later became his real-life wife.

It all leads to a big showdown, where Trickle overcomes his fears and wins the Daytona 500. Not everybody lived happily after, however, since Cruise and Kidman’s marriage lasted about 15 minutes.

At least they’ll always have Daytona Beach.

1. 'Caddyshack'

Bill Murray confronts his nemesis in 1980’s ‘Caddyshack.’

Critics initially sniffed at this supposedly juvenile comedy, but "Caddyshack" became a cult classic and arguably the most quoted sports movie of all time.

“It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

“You’ll get nothing and like it!”

“Be the ball.”

“You buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup.”

The lines were delivered by an epic cast featuring Chase, Bill Murray as groundskeeper Carl Spackler, Ted Knight as Judge Smails and Rodney Dangerfield in his breakout movie performance as Al Czervik.

A mechanical gopher and a Baby Ruth bar also have pivotal roles.

The movie was filmed at Rolling Hills Golf Club in Davie, aka Bushwood Country Club. It gave Florida some perpetual street cred in Hollywood.

A state that introduced Carl Spackler to the world can never be considered a tremendous movie slouch.

David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley

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