It’s pretty amazing how much mileage the underdog formula has gotten in sports films. After all, 95% of these movies feature an underdog in some capacity. It’s the nature of the beast. People never want to root for the guy or team that’s supposed to win.
However, sports comedies are a subset of sports films that offer even more adherence to convention. So much so that one can pretty much make a guide to creating the ultimate sports underdog comedy. If one was to follow these steps in writing their script, this film would gross at least $45 million domestically. So long as you keep the budget under $55 million or so, you’ll be able to turn a profit after DVDs and foreign markets, and you’ll have a hit on your hands.
Follow these rules. It’s actually that easy.
No one wants to watch a team of champs defend their title. That’s not exciting. I’m aware that the “underdog” part of the article’s title addresses that the team should be worse than at least 50% of the teams in their league, but that’s not enough. If an 8-8 team makes the NFL playoffs, that’s not really an underdog story. That’s just a shitty team that fans and audiences wouldn’t care about one way or another. That’s the Seattle Seahawks.
This team should be AWFUL.
The film can demonstrate this awfulness with a preseason montage or the first practice. If at least three people don’t fall down during the montage, then the team is not bad enough. During the montage, the scouts or announcers can do a voiceover introducing different players, a la Major League, or the coach can simply call on players to demonstrate their nonexistent chops. Either way, this roll call introduction sets us up for…
Nobody wants to watch boring people come from behind and win. In fact, no one wants to watch boring people do anything ever.
If it’s a hockey team, the goalie should be completely drunk at all times. The right wing should constantly be in and out of jail for domestic abuse. No. That would sacrifice too much likeability. Maybe the right wing could be in and out of jail for peacefully protesting left wing politics, just because that’s a delightful little play on words that I couldn’t sit on any longer.
It merits noting that if you have a black player on your team, “colorful” is just another word for “stereotypical.” In addition to his god-given talent (duh), he should be flashy, pompous, brash, and with a vernacular that his teammates have a hard time wrapping their heads around. Think “obnoxiously urban.”
You can’t go wrong with twins here, either. Because twins freak people out.