Bad News Bears

Hall of Shame

The Best Bad Coaches From Sports Movie

Catch the Bad News Bears movies this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

By Nick Stevens

American movie history is loaded with examples of great coaches — those fearless and inspirational leaders who, through fierce dedication, unconventional means and controversial methodologies, were able to help our heroes achieve their goals, or at least learn an invaluable lesson…while probably exorcising some personal demons of their own. These are not those men.

Behold a collection of the worst coaches in movie history, the Hollywood Coaching Hall of Shame, if you will. These men were never meant to be the leaders of other men, or in some case children or animals. Some would emerge victorious, though it was often in spite of themselves. Their arrogance or idiocy was sometimes their undoing, and a lack of coaching fundamentals, basic manners and hygiene made them irresistibly lovable to one and all.

1. Morris Buttermaker, The Bad News Bears

Swearing, drinking, yelling, screaming, berating those younger and older than him…all staples of the Morris Buttermaker repertoire. Then again, if you were a broken down alcoholic former ballplayer who cleaned pools for a living who, out of desperation took a job coaching a collection of the worst little league players ever, chances are swearing and drinking and yelling would be part of your repertoire, too.

Buttermaker, as portrayed by the great Walter Matthau, is the gold standard for great bad coaches. He was unfit for any of the responsibilities he undertook, which made him the perfect “role model” for his ragtag band of misfits whose team name ultimately would become a synonym for any error-prone squad. Buttermaker’s players swear, hurl racial insults, assault opponents and display the kind of behavior that would have Child Care Services called immediately. (It was the ’70s; times were different!) And if it wasn’t for a girl and a teen with a dirtbike his team may never have won. But somehow things worked out in this tale of hope, redemption and nine-year-olds who freely use the N word. Hey, it was the ’70s! (Click here to see all airings of The Bad News Bears movies on IFC.)


2. Artie DeVanzo, Beer League

Artie Lange Beer League
Echo Bridge Entertainment

As they said in Animal House, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”…unless of course it works for you, in which case you do you. And that’s exactly what Artie Lange, as player/manager Artie DeVanzo does in Artie Lange’s Beer League, a movie so drawn from Lange’s real life persona that the title bears his name. Were it not for the presence of Ralph Macchio one might even think this movie to be a documentary. Alas, it’s just a good-old fashioned frathouse romp, full of foul language, raunch and all the other things movies used to be rated-R for.

Lange’s DeVanzo is an absolute disaster of a human. He’s much better at shirking responsibilities, spewing insults and nursing hangovers than he is at in-gamesmanship, which should come as no surprise. But then again this is beer league softball, and Artie is just trying to help his team avoid the softball league equivalent of relegation. And his efforts prove that sometimes being terrible is a good thing…mostly for our viewing pleasure.


3. Roy Munson, Kingpin

Kingpin takes the “prodigy who fell from grace, and onto hard times, only to try and redeem himself” storyline and gooses it hilariously by adding an outrageous prodigy turned maimed mentor in the form of one-handed human dumpster fire Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson). Roy finds a potential new prodigy he can teach and seek redemption through in the former of Amish man Ishmael (Randy Quaid), and a beauty on the run (Vanessa Angel). All set in the world of professional bowling. You know, that old tale!

Roy’s fall from grace is so bad his last name becomes a verb for missing an opportunity. And whether it’s drinking his breakfast, having sex with his elderly landlord to pay the rent, or taking his Amish protege on a cross-country rumspringa, Roy is his own worst enemy, and has no business teaching anyone anything. Which is exactly why we root for him, even against his betraying mentor, “Big” Ern McCracken (Bill Murray), and that sweet encased rose bowling ball.


4. Chester Lee, Ladybugs

When you heard the premise of “Rodney Dangerfield coaches a young girls soccer team” you knew he’d be as good a coach as he was sitting still while on Johnny Carson’s couch. At no point does this movie make any pretense that it’s to be about anything other than Rodney Dangerfield and his jokes. That’s what Rodney Dangerfield movies were; 90 minute set-ups for him to deliver jokes. This one just happened to involve a girls soccer team, a Some Like It Hot storyline with Coach Chester (Rodney) sneaking his girlfriend’s son on the team to help them win, and Jackée Harry at the prime of her powers of sassitude. It’s far from Rodney’s best, but it’s Rodney, and it features one of our favorite bad Rodney lines ever. (Watch it above.)


5. Jackie Moon, Semi-Pro

Jackie Moon’s problem wasn’t that he was a bad coach. Well, he was. It’s just that he was stretched too thin. He was trying to be everything to everyone. Jackie was guilty of being a dreamer. And a bad player. And a bad GM. And a bad PA announcer. And a bad singer who somehow was a one hit wonder. And played in a bad town. On a bad team. In a bad league like the ABA. OK, Jackie Moon was terrible at everything. But because of his universal terribleness, all brought to glorious vintage comic life by Will Ferrell, we’d let Jackie Moon “Love Me Sexy” anytime.


6. Coach Klein, The Waterboy

Also from the Department of Coaches In Over Their Head, Coach Klein was, like many of our best-worst coaches, in possession of a bright future. But he fell from greatness, or at least had it stolen from him, and when we meet him he’s a mess. He can’t coach. He can’t draw up plays. He can’t remember where he is. But we love him in his ineptitude because we know he was wronged, and because he’s being played by The Fonz, for chrissakes! Sure, he gets his second chance, which arrives in the form of a socially awkward Cajun baby-talking man-child named Bobby Boucher, who just wanted to be his waterboy. But in the end turns out to be the best player on his team, and Coach Klein’s ticket to redemption and reclamation of his former play-calling prowess. Isn’t this is how it always works out in football, right?


7. John Kreese, The Karate Kid

Karate Kid Sweep the Leg
Columbia Pictures

Wait…just wait a leg-sweeping minute here! Are we saying that one of the best, most vicious karate masters in the history of Hollywood was in fact one of the best worst coaches? Oh, you bet your body bag we are, Johnny! But how could Kreese, the ruthless sensei from Cobra Kai, who told us where pain and fear did not exist, be bad at his job? His dojo was tops in the state annually. His squad goals were simple: kick everyone’s ass, no matter how. And that’s fine. But Kreese belongs on this list because yes, he gave tremendous villain, but he was cocky. Overconfident to a fault, a gawky Jersey transplant teen learning karate from a drunken Japanese karate master could actually defeat his number one pupil. We’re not showing any mercy on Kreese. Mostly because he taught us that mercy is for the weak.


8. White Goodman, Dodgeball

Yet another narcissistic entrepreneurial bully with a Napoleon complex who had it all in the palm of his tiny muscular hands…and blew it. Goodman’s (Ben Stiller) GloboGym dodgeball team is far superior to that of Pete LaFeleur (Vince Vaughn) and his Average Joe’s squad. Why, on paper it’s a mismatch of epic proportions. But somehow White and his muscle-keteers lose to a mod squad that was coached by a wheelchair bound former dodgeball legend who goes by the name Patches (Rip Torn). Dodgeball is titled “A True Underdog Story,” because on an unusual and unlikely stage David slays, or in this case, tags Goliath yet again. But you wouldn’t get that, would you, White? It’s a metaphor.


9. Coach Fanelli, Air Bud: Golden Receiver

Look, maybe Coach Fanelli meant well. Maybe he’s a good guy. Maybe he’s a brilliant football mind who, like Coach Klein, had a future, but something traumatic happened to him. Something traumatic enough for him to think a dog playing wide receiver on his football team was a good idea. We may never know. All we do know is that a dog playing wide receiver improved his team greatly…and, yes, the lives of us all. Thanks, Air Bud!


10. Coach Chubb, Ed

Let’s call this “The Coach Fanelli Clause” — you allow a domesticated animal to play on your team, and said team improves? You’re a terrible coach. No matter the outcome. One of the best terrible coaches ever. Your judgment has failed you. You should not be coaching anything. You’re so hopeless that at one point you figure, “How much worse could things get if I let a jungle creature play the field?” That’s rock bottom, friends. No matter the odds overcome, or horrendous costume work or special effects, your team is not supposed to improve when a chimp plays on it. Fortunately for Coach Chubb (as played by the late great Jack Warden) his team, and star pitcher, did turn their fortunes around. May Ed have mercy on us all.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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