Aronofsky’s Wide World of Sports Flicks

Darren Aronofsky first came into the popular conscious with his movie Requiem for a Dream, a haunting tale about addiction. Of course, if you’re like us, the most frightening thing about that movie is that Marlon Wayans could have actually had a legitimate career. Good God what happened.

I’m a surprisingly good actor… that’s why I got to play the baby.

After a detour with the overindulgent mess The Fountain, Aronofsky’s last two movies have instead focused on athletes. In 2008 he revitalized Mickey Rourke’s career with The Wrestler and in late 2010 he put a subversive twist on the ballet with Black Swan.

Natalie Portman really went all out training to become a dancer in time for Black Swan

With a couple of movies about athletes under his belt (yes we think ballerinas are athletes, some little boys didn’t get to play football) we at Crooked Copy think Aronofsky would be a perfect choice to remake some classic sports movies. Of course, he’d have to put his unique dark twist onto them, but we see them going something like this.

Field of Dreams

Kevin Costner plays an Iowa farmer who is about to have his farm repossessed by the bank if he can’t start making his mortgage payments on time. Desperate and running out of options he starts cooking meth in his basement. After the first few batches don’t turn out so well he goes on a hunt to find the one man that can help him: James Earl Jones. Jones, a recovering meth addict himself, is at first wary of Costner’s proposal, but soon warms up to the idea after spending a few days with Costner talking baseball nonstop. I mean nonstop, Costner brings some of the meth that turned out all right with him and they get BLOWN. This would probably be best done in a montage. When Jones is back on the farm with Costner they really get cooking, quite literally. Tweaked out of his mind one night, Costner walks into the corn field and for some reason erects a baseball diamond. He mutters to his wife about seeing famous ballplayers on the diamond, but all his wife sees are toothless tweakers running around the bases.

I can play ball real good

The bank is getting their money but they become suspicious when it all comes in cash and is delivered in bulk Sudafed boxes. In a dramatic scene Costner’s wife tries to reason with him to give up the game, but he’s so high he just rants about how much he loves baseball as she walks out the door. The movie ends as the camera zooms out on the farm and you can see the sirens from the FBI closing in on the farm from a distance.

The Natural

In Aronofsky’s version the premise is largely kept the same. A middle aged hitter arrives out of nowhere and is signed by a last place team. The hitter is so talented that his addition to the team alone is enough to spark a miraculous turnaround that brings the team to the World Series. There are two key differences. First, instead of Robert Redford, the main character is played by Jose Canseco. Second, the flashback scenes are pretty much all about juicing, including a scene of Canseco injecting his special concoction, White Lightning, into his own buttocks with a syringe that reads Wonderboy on the side. After the team wins the World Series, Canseco is summoned to testify in front of the United States Congress about his use of performance enhancing drugs. After several scenes involving Canseco telling bold face lies to Congress, his guilt finally overcomes him and he breaks down crying telling them everything. His team is stripped of their World Series title and Canseco is humiliated.

How could I have been so foolish?

(Ed. Note: It doesn’t matter that Congress doesn’t actually have this power. It’s a movie and people will believe anything you put in a movie. Haven’t you seen Gandhi?) The movie ends with a glimmer of hope as an anonymous man approaches Canseco after the hearing and tells him that he thinks his story would make a great book. Aronofsky’s version is titled The Unnatural.

The Longest Yard

Burt Reynolds, a former star QB,  is sent to prison after brutally murdering his coke-addled celebutante girlfriend after a vicious argument. Miraculously, he is only sentenced to 18 months after convincing the jury that his girlfriend was actually kind of a dog. Reynolds is sent to a maximum security prison with a football happy warden that only employees guards who are also ex-college football stars. Already distrusted by the other inmates because of his reputation in the NFL for throwing games, Reynolds is targeted for brutal assaults by the guards when he refuses the warden’s offer to coach the guards’ semi-professional football team.

I don't even want to tell you what happens in the showers.

He finally gains some traction with the other other inmates after keeping his mouth shut following a prison riot. Tired of all the abuse he’s been taking, Reynolds convinces the warden to let him build a team of prisoners to play the guards. If Reynold’s loses he will succumb to the warden’s wishes and coach the football team. If he wins, all of the people on the team will be eligible for early parole. Instead of teaching the other inmates how to play football, Reynolds has them spend all of their practice time fashioning shivs out of toothbrushes. On the first snap of the game, the prisoners all pull on their shivs and and stab the guards. They are all shot instantly in the head by guards in the towers watching the game. Reynolds survives his injury and the movie ends with him sitting on the bench, head wrapped in a bandage, staring at a football field outside the prison walls.

A League of Their Own

Reset in an alternate world where the has been a draft to fight the war against the combined nuclear power of Iran and North Korea, the Steinbrenner family is concerned that without baseball no one will know who they are. This prompts them to fund an all woman’s baseball team to keep their name and legacy alive. They send out scouts to create 8 baseball teams. The Steinbrenners’ team is called the New York Dykes and is made up primarily of ex college softball players. Their up and coming rivals, the New Jersey Hurricanes, are made up woman from all walks of life including an exotic dancer/1st basemen, Jessica Alba; a high powered executive/pitcher, Cameron Diaz; and a manufacturing line worker/catcher, Scarlett Johannson. The Hurricanes are able to use their skill to win ballgames, but it’s clear trouble is brewing when Diaz starts to mentally breakdown shortly before the playoffs. The stress of being the number 1 pitcher and the nagging thought that the others on the team are trying to undermine her to steal her glory is clearly starting to get to her. The manager, played by Vince Vaughn, notices this and tells her she is too tense on the mound and needs to loosen up.

And the pitch...

Alba offers to take her to a club to help loosen her up and Diaz reluctantly agrees. While there Diaz drinks too much and passes out, but is convinced that Alba slipped something in her drink. She oversleeps the next day and misses her scheduled start, but thanks to a game winning hit by Alba, the team wins anyway. The team finally faces the Dykes in the championship game and it is Diaz’s turn on the mound. The pressure proves to be too much for her and she has a psychotic breakdown in the locker room. When she goes out to pitch, she is free of all abandon and throws a stunning perfect game. However, the strain is too much for her arm and after the last pitch she falls on the mound muttering, “I was perfect.” The final scene is of her in a hospital bed with her arm amputated as the camera fades to white.

Space Jam

NBA superstar and global icon Michael Jordon stars as a failed father struggling to connect with his children, while fighting the inevitable decline of his skills on the basketball court. While public appearances show a well constructed façade, Jordan carries with him not only a number of personal demons from his home life, but a dark addiction to hallucinogenic pain killers prescribed to prop-up his aging back.

Jordan's depiction of the events that took place outside of Old Duke's Tavern in Peoria, Chicago

In an attempt to reconnect with his two sons, Marcus and Jeff, Jordan begins to watch old episodes of Looney Toons, their favorite show, on road trips. As he progresses through the season Jordan becomes more and more reclusive, clinging only to his drug addiction and consistent and cult-like following of the classic cartoon. His obsession finally gets the best of him as he breaks down and can no longer distinguish fiction from reality. “Bugs Bunny” and “friends” help him relive his gloomy past of neglect.

Semi-Pro

A documentary about Will Ferrell, a washed up comedic actor struggling to shake off the stench of mediocre type-casting. Semi-Pro takes an exclusive look into the life of Ferrell as his films, all conspicuously similar, continue to see diminishing returns.

I swear this is a different character. Can't you see I'm wearing different clothes?

Ferrell, a spendthrift at the height of his popularity, fights to keep his lavish lifestyle and extensive financial obligations from collapsing by mortgaging his remaining assets on one final film, Semi-Pro. The movie is about a wild and crazy news anchor determined to make network…race car driver…figure skater semi-pro basketball star determined to play his team into the National Basketball Association.

Semi-Pro provides never-before-seen footage of the chic and privileged Hollywood A-List parties. Ferrell, struggles to stay focused on his work but his film quickly slips into another halfhearted effort doomed to failure as he slips into a life of drugs, women, and late night parties with its co-star, Charlie Sheen.

Last Minute Pitches

Mighty Ducks

Mighty Ducks: A raging alcoholic Emilio Estevez goes on to a successful career as a pee-wee hockey coach. Despite his winning record, Estevez battles with corporate sponsors for the soul of the team, which only leads to more drinking. An evil Mr. Duckworth, played by what’s left of Michael Douglas, eventually pays off 13-year-old Connie Moreau, played by Jennifer Connelly, to lie about an affair with Estevez. He is stabbed to death in prison by Peter Mark, a denim-jacket clad, pint sized bad-boy Estevez had cut from the team.

No, I will not stab my hockey coach...not

Happy Gilmore

A blue collar underdog golfer hires a vagrant to be his caddie, who is wise beyond his years, a trait he demonstrates by reciting the value of Pi for the first 45 minutes of the screen play. Aronofsky realizes half-way through filming this remake sounds more like

Legend of Bagger Vance

…with numbers. Zach Galifianakis stars in his first dramatic role.

Bring It On

Lindsay Lohan stars as a transfer student cheerleader and is a lesbian. Oh wait, every member of the team is lesbian, raving sex-crazed ones. All of them.

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