I love sports. Somewhere in the annals of history exists pictures of me at three or four years old, sleeping while wearing a football helmet of my own volition. Most of my earliest heroes were sports stars. Seeking to understand baseball statistics drove me to learn math. Armed with that knowledge, it's easy to see why I was excited when I saw the topic for this week's Thursday Movie Picks. It's "School Competition." However, my balloon was quickly deflated as I read into the parentheses that accompanied that theme. It explicitly said "Not sports." It goes on to say "could be singing, music, science." I'm going to add et cetera because I'm assuming that's what our host meant. Oh yeah, our host is Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves and Thursday Movie Picks is her brilliant baby. Check out her site and join in on the fun, if you don't already take part. Let's get to it.
Revenge of the Nerds
(1984)The short version of the plot is a bunch of nerds fail to get into any of the popular fraternities on their college campus and decide to form their own frat. Sorta. Despite being almost all white, the boys decide to apply to become a chapter of the all black Lamda Lamda Lamda fraternity. This grants them at least sixty days as a probationary chapter. With that, they enter into the school's "Greek Games" and try to take down the hated jocks of Alpha Beta. These games include such events as tricycle riding (while chugging beer, naturally), pie selling, and belching. The grand finale is a musical competition that is the film's most iconic moment.
The Great Debaters
(2007)We switch from a completely fictional sex farce to a true story. The Great Debaters gives us the rundown on a debate team from historically black Wiley College located well within the unfriendly confines of the Jim Crow south back in the 1930s. The team would eventually participate in the first interracial debate competition in the United States. As is par for the course for such a story, we get to see many of the hardships the team faced getting to that point. Despite it being on the cliche side, it's still a very good watch. It helps to have Hollywood's number one weapon against racism as the professor who leads the squad, Denzel Washington. By the way, this leads to a very minor piece of trivia. I've already said Denzel Washington is in the film. Forest Whitaker is also in the film. The interesting part of this is that the kid playing Whitaker's son, a team member, is named Denzel Whitaker. No, he's not related to either guy, but is named after Mr. Washington.
Louder Than a Bomb
(2010)This time, the switch is from college to high school. And this is a documentary. About poetry. Don't you run away, dammit! This is about an annual city-wide poetry slam that takes place in Chicago, Illinois. For the unhip among us, a poetry slam is a poetry competition where performance is as important as the content of the poem's themselves. In this case, there are both individual and team categories. We spend time with the defending champs, the team from Steinmetz Academic Academy, but see that they are still underdogs. We also spend time with several solo poets from other schools. It is both heart-wrenching and exhilarating. Oh yeah, it's underseen, too. Way underseen. (Click here for my full review)