Apr 262010

It was a good run, but all self-indulgent articles must come to an end. So without further ado, I present the final piece of the Stabone Over-Analysis of Sports Movies.

Over the Top’s Underwhelming Ending

I am not done picking on Stallone. I love the man’s movies for what they are. But let’s face it, they are bona fide train wrecks when dissected properly.

One of the best forgotten Saturday Night Live sketches of the 90s was when Sly Stallone was hosting to promote Copland. (Underrated movie, check it out.) In this sketch Norm MacDonald is in a car crash which Sly, who plays himself, sees and attempts to offer his assistance. For the next several minutes Norm groans and moans not due to pain from the injury, but pain over some of Sylvester’s film choices. Norm’s critique is as follows:

Let me ask you something: What were you thinking when you made Over The Top? …I mean, you had to arm wrestle a guy for the custody of your son, for God’s sake! I mean, did you actually get that script and go around telling people, ‘Hey, this is a good one!’

No, no, you’re right. You know, it was an excellent movie, now that I think about it. After all, you know, it does combine the emotional drama of a custody child hearing with, uh… arm wrestling!!

Whoa, hey! Hey, remember that movie Kramer vs. Kramer? Yeah, that was about child custody, too. Yeah, but it wasn’t that good. I don’t know, it was missing something, you know? Ah, what was it missing? I can’t.. oh, wait! I know! ARM WRESTLING!

Perhaps one of Norm’s finest performances ever. And he is right. Over the Top reaches highly on the absurdity scale.

What bugged me the most about this film from the first time I watched it is at the Arm Wrestling Championships. We are told it will be a double elimination tournament. Lincoln does indeed lose one match to John Grizzly before reaching the finals with Bull Hurley. So if he loses, he is done. Bull, on the other hand, has been shown to be completely dominant. It is implied he has never lost. So when Lincoln does beat Hurley while some killer Kenny Loggins is blasting in the background I was more than a little confused as to why they did not arm wrestle again. This was Bull’s first loss in a double elimination event. Lincoln should have to beat him again. Personally I do not see this happening. He done messed with The Bull. He was gon get some horns.

Diving at Grand Lakes University

The weather patterns at Grand Lakes University were clearly off kilter when Thornton Melon arrived on campus. This is the only possible reason I can explain why the university would possibly build an outdoor diving facility for their program instead of an indoor one.

When Thornton first arrives the semester is about to start. Judging by the foliage and leaves on the ground, it is clearly autumn in a temperate environment. Yet only a few days later we see Thornton and Jason out diving. I really doubt any school would have their diving pool at the ready when it is probably only in the 50s outside and getting colder by the day.

The diving season goes on throughout the movie, all outside. By the last event, all the spectators in the stands are still wearing spring jackets or sweatshirts. That water must have been so cold that the divers’ testes burrowed all the way into their stomachs to keep them warm. And I do not even want to imagine the “shrinkage” they would be having there.

In hindsight it all makes sense why the coach is bragging about how he is about to set the record for most consecutive losses in his conference. It is looking doubtful that any decent diver would ever want to come to such a terrible program where there is a possibility that when they dive into the water they could either get hypothermia or snap their necks from the impact of landing on a sheet of ice from four stories up.

I am also not buying Derek Lutz being able to blind the one diver with a mirror from 200-plus feet away and aiming forty feet up. The odds of that happening must be astronomical.

The next problem does not deal with a sports movie, but how a sports activity is used as a terrible plot device.

Escaping from Velociraptors with the Cunning Use of Gymnastics

In Lost World: Jurassic Park, Dr. Malcolm’s child (who uncannily looked just like Jeff Goldblum) was able to save the day while being attacked by raptors with her savvy use of gymnastics. When I first saw this in the theaters I was thinking to myself “No. Spielberg isn’t going to… oh my sweet lord, he is! No! NOOO!!”

Did Spielberg really expect us to think it was feasible that a twelve-year-old girl, who got booted from her school’s gymnastics program no less, would be able to render unconscious let alone daze a raptor by kicking it in the face? The damn thing probably weighs as much as a bear and she’s not even 100 pounds. Her kicking it would have caused about as much damage as if someone went up to a lion and pinched it on its butt. The real end result of this would be either 1) she breaks her leg kicking such a hard object, 2) she comes to a dead halt to which the raptor eats her while Dr. Malcolm makes a snarky comment, or 3) the raptor falls over from laughter.

But that’s Chaos Theory for you there. No one could have ever predicted the writers could come up with something so incredibly unfathomable. The infeasibility factor of this ranks up there with the stuff Lucas threw at us in the prequel trilogy.

When Miyagi Met Daniel-san

As I have mentioned before, and many others before me, there seems to be a certain connection between Miyagi and Daniel-san which is not quite how-do-you-say ‘kosher.’ We all felt it, but no one wanted to say anything. We were just enjoying the ride. Same with Sam and Frodo, Luke and Obi-Wan, Batman and Robin, Henry Rowengartner and Chet Steadman, Bert and Ernie.

As like all of these other cases, no one is quite sure if this is a classic bromance or a real romance. There are certain red flags that occur throughout the series that lead me to believe that there was more than a friendship going on here.

1. Miyagi’s Rubdown: Was it a massage or a happy ending? Whenever Daniel-san (or D-s if you’re into the whole brevity thing) complained of soreness, Miyagi’s instant source of pain relief was to rub his hands together and fondle D-s. He did it to D-s twice in Part I. Right when D-s complained of pains after painting the fence, waxing on and waxing off, and painting the house, we see Miyagi put his hands inside Dannyboy’s blouse. Then after Kreese executes Order 66 on D-s in the All Valley Tournament, we see D-s request the rubdown from Miyagi. The big difference this time is the camera cuts away. What really happened? Only Miyagi and D-s know for sure. All I can say is they were back in the locker room for a while.

2. All D-s’s relationships failed. In each film D-s has a different romantic lead. None last. First there was Ali with an I. She left him for a football player. Then there was Kumiko in KKII. She left him for Sato’s nephew. This was never shown on film, but it was inevitable. Then there was that chick in KKIII who only starred in Teen Witch before she was never seen from again. By this third film his significant other was just “a friend” because apparently the writers realized no one was buying D-s with a girl of that caliber. I personally loved how she calls D-s out for the odd relationship early on in the film. How many people really have best friends where you always call him Mr. and his last name? That’s crazy. (I’m Brian Fellow!)

These women all quickly realized that they would never match the love D-s has for Miyagi. So they cut their losses and left before stuff got real. They made the right choice, clearly.

3. Why did Miyagi really leave Japan? We are all told he leaves so he does not have to fight and undoubtedly kill Sato in embarrassing fashion. (The pasty old man stood no chance.) But what are the odds he really left Japan because the fine citizens of Okinawa were ready to pull the Freddy Krueger treatment on him after one too many close encounters of the pedo kind? I’d say the odds are even that Miyagi was holding back on the real truth behind his exodus from his homeland.

4. Miyagi’s next student… awk.ward. After Daniel started to show his age, Miyagi tossed him aside like Michael Jackson did Macaulay Culkin. His next pupil was Hilary Swank, a troubled young girl. Early on, Miyagi even admits he does not know how to deal with girls. As he says, “Boys are easier.” Well said, Miyagi, well said. After trying to train her for a while, Miyagi decides to take her along to the ultimate Sausage Fest, a Buddhist Monastery. Why am I not surprised that Miyagi feels right at home in a community most known for fancying young boys?

There are other instances where there is no proof, but I have my suspicions…

5. The flight over to Japan… Anyone else wondering if D-s became a new member of the Mile High Club? It’s a long flight, and Miyagi could have a voracious appetite. We just do not know.

6. Additional training we never saw. I have it on good authority that there were some training that was edited out. On the last day of training Miyagi had D-s go around his entire house cleaning all the knobs of doors. But instead of cleaning it normally, Miyagi requested D-s use no towels; just WD-40 and his hands. On top of all this, D-s had to cup his hands and make small, circular movements with his wrists. I have analyzed this multiple times and still cannot see how this training known as “Polishing the Knob” could ever by utilized in a martial arts competition.

This puts an end to the biggest problems I have with some sports movie classics, and also some terrible movies. After reading and rereading this article multiple times one thing is abundantly clear. I need to get out more often.

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