Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gene Hackman Can't Coach

A caveat. The following post has absolutely nothing to do with publishing.

Has anyone else noticed that Gene Hackman can't coach?

In Hoosiers (1986), Hackman pays Norman Dale, an outsider who arrives to the small town of Hickory and coaches the high school basketball team to the Indiana state championship. He teaches the team discipline and conditioning, but that's about it. The only actual strategic play ever called was by his assistant Shooter (Dennis Hopper) when Hackman gets kicked out the game. When he actually tried to call a play, he gets overruled by his players. Basically, he got blessed with the amazing talent that was Jimmy Chitwood, and he just had to get out of the way. This reminds me of Phil Jackson, who I never thought could coach but just was blessed with the likes of Jordan, Pippen, O'Neal, and Bryant.

Next in the Gene Hackman-can't-coach display is The Replacements (1990), a cheesy but underrated football movie that highlights a team of scrub players that take the field when the regular NFL players strike. Hackman plays unorthodox head coach Jimmy McGinty, hired to try to coach the rag tag players that are pooled together to finish out the season. The biggest coaching decision Hackman makes is giving quaterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves) a chance to play in the second half of the final game of the season, though this was a no-brainer. On the final play, the best Hackman can do is tell Falco that the game is in his hands. Hackman doesn't even inspire his team with a great speech. That's also left to Falco, who spouts the immortal words, "Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory last forever."

Now compare this to Micky teaching Rocky to fight as a righty before the rematch against Apollo Creed in Rocky II, or Crash Davis teaching Nuke LaLoosh about pitching, foot fungus and interviews in Bull Durham, or even Al Pacino screaming about the inches we fight for in Any Given Sunday. It's just not the same, right?


Jaye Wells said...

Don't forget Tom Hanks in League of Their Own. Another great coaching role.

I think what Gene Hackman lacks in coaching roles he makes up for with villains (Lex Luthor) and blind hermits (Young Frankenstein).

John said...

I don't know. It seems pretty savvy of Norman Dale to focus on areas in which his team needed help (conditioning and defense) rather than areas in which they didn't ("I've seen you can shoot, but there's more to the game than shooting").

Anonymous said...

He measured the distance of the rim to the floor when they got to the big game.....if that's not great coaching, i don't know what is....

Kristan said...

I couldn't help laughing when I read this post, because all of these speeches have been YouTube-d and emailed to me by my boyfriend on the day of our flag football games. :P

(And you must be sick of all my comments today, but I should be caught up soon!)