Sports movies have a long tradition in cinema. It is one of the most beloved genres of film, resulting in some of the most inspiring movies ever created. Fans of the genre may undoubtedly picture an underdog of some type when thinking of these films, or a thrilling game or match and the welcoming sounds of cheers.
But the sports movie genre is also home to some truly bizarre creations, whether it be movies with entirely fictional sports, those that blend live-action and animation, or just wacky goofiness that tends to subvert the more sentimental nature of the genre.
10 Happy Gilmore (1996)
While still retaining some semblance of reality, Happy Gilmore is nevertheless a typically goofy comedy from Adam Sandler. The movie is filled with funny quotes, but it also has an undercurrent of weirdness to it.
Sandler plays a prospective hockey player who plays professional golf with a hockey stick and a bizarre swing. It’s filled with strange hallucinations/visions, including a sweet old lady dressed like a member of Kiss. Sandler gets beaten up by Bob Barker. Happy is caddied by a homeless man without socks. Put simply, the movie is a wonderful concoction of hilarious and odd.
9 Caddyshack (1980)
Perhaps the funniest and goofiest golf movie ever made, Caddyshack contains an all-star cast and a peculiar story involving a dancing gopher. Bill Murray classically portrays Carl Spackler, the eccentric groundskeeper whose sole aim in life is to kill the gopher that is tearing up the golf course.
A lot of goofy hijinks follow, including a memorable finale that hilariously blends massive explosions, a screaming gopher running through underground tunnels, and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” It’s not high art by any means, but it is funny.
8 Over The Top (1987)
This movie’s title betrays its tone. Over the Top stars Sylvester Stallone in peak ’80s form, playing a long-haul truck driver named Lincoln Hawk who competes in underground arm wrestling competitions for extra money. After bonding with his estranged son Michael, Hawk competes in the World Armwrestling Championships in Las Vegas to win $100,000 and start his own trucking company.
Over the Top is gleefully over the top in tone, style, and story, complete with bombastic action, an unrelenting rock soundtrack, an unusual choice of sport, and a saccharine story about family.
7 BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made some satirical masterpieces throughout their long careers. They also starred in BASEketball. As the unique title suggests, the movie concerns a fictional sport combining baseball with basketball.
There’s a predictably puerile sense of humor prevalent throughout much of the film, and the movie asks viewers to buy into the outrageous idea that this silly game, created by two slackers, would become a national sport played in stadiums.
6 Angels In The Outfield (1994)
While, undoubtedly, a touching movie starring a young Joseph Gordon Levitt, Angels in the Outfield is nevertheless a very weird one. It’s a maudlin and sentimental Disney film, and as the title suggests, it stars angels quite literally in the outfield of a baseball stadium.
A foster child named Roger Bomman prays that the California Angels will win the pennant, as he believes that it will bring his family back together. God then sends a group of angels to manipulate the Angels’ baseball games — which often includes a lot of slapstick humor and stretches of the imagination.
5 Teen Wolf (1985)
Just one month after the release of Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox starred in the critically maligned Teen Wolf. In this fantasy sports film, Fox plays high school student Scott Howard, who discovers with some degree of shock that he is a werewolf. He then uses his newfound abilities to help his flailing high school basketball team win games.
It’s definitely a bizarre concept, and somehow, it proves even more unbelievable than the events seen in Back to the Future. Watching Fox pounce around a basketball court in full werewolf regalia will never not be weird.
4 Space Jam (1996)
Michael Jordan acts alongside traditionally animated Looney Tunes characters, and they eventually face off in a basketball game with a group of monsters in order to win humanity’s freedom. The ridiculous premise is intentionally goofy, and the movie’s blending of over-the-top cartoonish humor with live-action footage often proves abnormally endearing.
3 Air Bud (1997)
A fun movie about animal and human friendship, Air Bud is a mystifying family film that contains a basketball-playing Golden Retriever. The Retriever is a circus dog, and his natural talent for basketball eventually places him on Josh Framm’s middle school basketball team.
The dog eventually leads the team to victory, thanks to a helpful loophole that states dogs are allowed to play. Like many “animals playing sports” movies, the very premise is unorthodox and rather zany, and even though it’s a children’s movie, it’s quite hard to take Air Bud seriously.
2 Ed (1996)
Ed stars Matt LeBlanc, and it comes across as the type of film that Joey Tribbiani would find himself in. The story concerns Ed, a helpful and talented chimpanzee who begins playing third base for a minor league baseball team. He also strikes up a friendship with LeBlanc’s Jack Cooper, the team’s star pitcher.
This is arguably the worst of the “animals playing sports” genre because it takes itself a little too seriously despite its obviously kooky story. It’s almost like a parody of feel-good family films, only it’s completely sincere.
1 The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979)
A little-known fantasy comedy from 1979, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh is quite possibly the weirdest sports movie ever released. It concerns a lousy basketball team called the Pittsburgh Pythons who are saved by the waterboy. He goes to an astrologer, and she gets the idea to populate the Pythons only with players who were born under the Pisces sign.
The movie is hilarious and never takes itself seriously, often leaning into its intentionally wacky and magical premise. Anything involving magic is bound to be weird owing to its complete disassociation with reality, and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh is anything but realistic.