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When one thinks of the greatest basketball films in the annals of cinematic history, a few come to mind. Hoosiers, Above the Rim, Coach Carter and Slam Dunk Ernest. Sadly, one of the best basketball movies of all time seems to go overlooked. That masterpiece is Teen Wolf. Released in 1985, the original Teen Wolf starring Michael J. Fox deftly blended comedy, werewolves and basketball. I hope to show you why this great film is one of the best and most inspiring basketball films of all time.
Fox plays Scott Howard, a high school student who longs to be more than just average. Scott, when not whittling his time way working with his father in his hardware store, plays for the Beavers basketball team. The team according to Scott’s father “has not won a game in three years”.
Scott and the Beavers are an awful team that regularly get trounced by their rivals, the Dragons. Mick, a typical 80’s cinema bully torments Scott on and off the court. He is threatened and enraged by Scott’s attraction to his girlfriend, Pamela.
Scott begins to notice strange and unexpected changes to his physical appearance. Long hair begins sprouting randomly; his canine teeth grow longer; and his eyes start to glow red. These new traits leave him disconcerted and confused.
Scott is confronted by his father who he learns is also a werewolf. His father informs him in no uncertain terms to use his newfound powers carefully. During the next Beavers game Scott transforms into his wolf persona. When he emerges everyone is shocked, but Scott uses this to his advantage and begins scoring points for the team. The Beavers begin winning games but Scott alienates those closest to him with his newfound penchant showboating and cocky attitude.
Teen Wolf, as a basketball film gives the viewer the chance to see a rag tag team come together and finally win the championship game. The film goes deep on many levels. It shows the struggle of one man’s decision to do the right thing. He proves that he and his team were good enough on their own merits to win.
It also demonstrates how unsportsmanlike conduct can never carry a team to victory. A team needs every player to be able to pull himself or herself across the finish line. It also shows viewers and impressionable youth that they can do almost anything. This is evident because Michael J. Fox is only 5’4” which is insane compared the average height of most basketball players.
Furthering the case for Teen Wolf being the greatest basketball film of all time, ‘Sports Illustrated’ compiled a scouting report for Scott which you can read here. In the end Teen Wolf is simply a fantastic basketball movie disguised as a teen werewolf comedy.
Directed by Rod Daniel of K-9 and The Super fame, Teen Wolf contains other familiar faces in the cast. Mark Holton who you may remember as Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Jerry Levine whose resume includes Born on the Fourth of July and Iron Eagle, also stars.
Next time you have the urge to watch a true underdog film and want to get your windmill dunk fix, watch the Beavers bring home the championship. If you have the choice to watch another basketball classic, turn it off and throw on Teen Wolf. Trust me, you will not regret it.
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