How To Create An Underdog Sports Comedy

Wednesday, October 5 by

Have a Total Bastard Coach Your Team

Walter Matthau and Emilio Estevez are both good candidates.

Excuse me.

Emilio Estevez is a good candidate. Walter Matthau is dead.

The coach (or quarterback) should be forced into this position against their will. Community service is always a safe explanation, but so is falling in love with one of the players’ moms.

The incredulous and jaded coach serves as an exaggerated audience surrogate. We all step into the theater wanting to see our team win. And coaches obviously want their team to win, but over time, coaches (and the audience) will realize that it’s not just about wins and losses, but also basking in the new relationship between the Jewish jockey and his Palestinian trainer. Or the gay player accepted by the rural Mississippi AA baseball team.

If the coach starts off proud of his team, then there’s no upward trajectory on that front. The team will have to earn that pride and respect, because without that subplot, your movie is only gonna run like 75 minutes. Once the team does earn the coach’s admiration, you may be tempted to make him a warmer, more likeable person. Don’t. The players should be likeable on their own. The coach should be gruff. Maybe slightly less gruff than when the season started, but still gruff.

While you’re at it, give the coach something to prove. Maybe a missed shot at greatness in his playing days. John Candy gave us that in Cool Runnings, and I managed to suspend my disbelief that John Candy could fit in a bobsled.

Gruff, involuntary, something to prove. Those are the only characteristics your coach needs.

Have a Girl on the Team

If you’re anything like me, when Kathy Ireland appeared as the kicker in Necessary Roughness, I was all, “WHAAAAAAAAAAT! THAT GIRL’S TOO HOT TO PLAY FOOTBALL! AND THAT GIRL’S A GIRL!!!!”

Then I regained my composure, excused myself to the restroom , then I came back and I was like “WAIT, WHAT???????” because I had forgotten about the big revelation pretty quickly.

Anyway, stick a girl on the team. It will really add to the “ragtag” factor.

Make the Best Team in the League Evil for Absolutely No Reason

Couldn’t the guys from the Cobra Kai dojo have been really nice guys that just happened to be good at karate?

Absolutely not.

I don’t want to see nice guys get beat. Only a monster would want that. I want to see bad guys who make the contest personal by cracking inappropriate jokes about wives and children and seriously injure opposing players then smile about it. That’s who I want to see fall from grace.

Why was the Icelandic team from Mighty Ducks 2 so evil? I don’t know. I just know they wore black, never spoke, and had slicked-back hair. If you see a kid with slicked-back hair, you should cross the street, cause that kid’s bad news. Other examples of this include Draco Malfoy and the child crime boss from Robocop 2.

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