Staff Picks: Five Athlete Movie Cameos That Were Actually Well Executed
Welcome to “Staff Picks,” a segment where we bring you the most impactful plays, memorable characters, or surreal TV and radio moments from our collective sports-clogged consciousness. In this week’s edition, we go to the movies, and take a look at the athletes that actually did well on the big screen.
Tim Burke: Most athlete cameos are hackneyed, but the handful of Lee Trevino's appearances in Happy Gilmore are always subtle (they were generally shots of him silently expressing disapproval). Until this scene, when he finally speaks up to correct Shooter McGavin's idiomatic assertion that Grizzly Adams did not have a beard.
The writers very easily could have had Adam Sandler's character say the line -- he responds similarly to McGavin's stupidity throughout the rest of the movie. But by giving the line to Lee Trevino, there's a bit of a plot twist. Until that moment of the film, the only pro golfer to really share an interest in Gilmore's success is Gary Potter, the character played by Kevin Nealon. When Trevino speaks up it's not a particularly funny line, but it plays a role in making the movie's ending a bit more consistent.
That may sound like a strange aspect to like about an Adam Sandler movie, but it's also what sets Happy Gilmore (and his previous film, Billy Madison) apart from some of his later lowbrow comedic offerings (The Waterboy, et cetera). They can stand on their own as decent stories, and small parts like the efficient use of cameos can do that.
Dave Levy: My vote for best athlete cameo is Dan Marino in the original Ace Ventura, because he was more than a come-in, come-out cameo. Marino was part of the plot of this endlessly quotable 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle.
Unfortunately, there's not an extended YouTube clip of Marino's cameo. All we have is him clueing Ace in on Ray Finkle's tuckjob. But there are three things that are especially awesome about Marino in Ace, all from the big finale scene:
1) Marino's brief interactions with Carrey are great, but the "Okay, we won't expect that much of him because he's a quarterback" acting during the big reveal is subtle and awesome.
2) That is the most 90s vest of all-time.
3) "You're a weird guy, Ace. A weird guy."
Glenn Davis: For a guy who generally seems to be something of a crank (witness his bizarre attempt to publicly shame the Lakers into getting him a statue outside Staples Center), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a stunningly good comic actor. And while he's showcased that side of himself occasionally on The Colbert Report, for instance, his somewhat-hidden talent was unleashed for good in the 1980 classic Airplane!, and Abdul-Jabbar's turn as plane co-pilot "Roger Murdock" will forever be his defining foray into the entertainment world.
Amazingly, "Murdock's" biggest moment isn't on Youtube as best we can tell, but that's all the more reason to seek out this movie if you haven't seen it (and really, even if you already have). Suffice to say, we will never underestimate the difficulty of dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes, and even if Kareem himself has difficulty recalling the particulars of that scene, we never will. And Kareem's exit from the film (you can see it at the 30-second mark below) provided the perfect capper to his unexpectedly hilarious performance.
Sure, he's wearing (most of) the basketball uniform...but this was him showing off a much, much different Kareem. And we couldn't be happier about it.
Spencer Lund: Adam Sandler's The Waterboy isn't one of his most memorable movies. It features a stuttering Sandler moving from waterboy to star linebacker, all the while muttering Sandlerisms and finding his way into the heart of a pretty girl. So, yeah, it's your standard Sandler sports movie (and he's made a few: Happy Gilmore, Waterboy, and the Longest Yard).
Like many of Sandler's films, this one features some cameos, the most notable being Lawrence Taylor. Yes, the Lawrence Taylor of the rape, crack, and general debauchery fame. If only Taylor could have taken his own advice in Waterboy.
Dan Fogarty: Alex Karras' career highlights, in order:
1) Being named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1960's.
2) Entering the college football Hall of Fame.
3) Punching a horse in Blazing Saddles.
For an athlete, Karras has a great IMDb page. But his most memorable movie role was as Mongo, the slow-witted brute who trots into town on a horse with "Yes" and "No" painted on its butt.
Mongo, though, was more than a bully: he was a philosopher. Upon being asked a question by Sheriff Bart, Mongo responded with, "Don't know..." He then proceeded to look directly into the camera, and say, "...Mongo only pawn in game of life."
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Gaming Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.