Andrew Gilman

Sports and the Movies: Aaron Hernandez and Adam Sandler; Gambling and Murder

Sports and the Movies: Aaron Hernandez and Adam Sandler; Gambling and Murder

Kevin Garnett doesn’t just do a good job acting for Kevin Garnett in “Uncut Gems.”. He just happens to be really good, kinda like Ice Cube wasn’t just good for a rapper in “Boyz n the Hood,”  he was just really good as an actor.

And Adam Sandler isn’t good in “Gems” in the way you say the Thunder’s Mike Muscala is playing well if he makes a shot. You say that because your expectations are low. Your bar may be low for Sander, too, but he’s well above that. Sandler deserves high expectations because he dominates the screen.

“Uncut Gems” is fabulous. It’s being trapped in the elevator with your mother-in-law. It’s manic and full of pressure. It’s uncomfortable and awkward.

The movie isn’t a “Who-Done-It.” It’s more of a “Why’s He Doing it?”

Add all that up, you get more than a rollercoaster, you get a Tilt-o-Whirl. And you also get a movie about life under the umbrella of being a sports movie.

Garnett as himself. Mike Francesca, plenty of basketball and gambling, drinking and cussing.

But this isn’t “Remember the Titans” or “Coach Carter,” “The Mighty Ducks” or any of the other sports movies that make you think about the value and importance of sports – the altruistic coaches and the championship players. You know those ESPN commercials that make you feel good about the power of sports? This isn’t that. Gems is grit and back-alley, dirty fingernails, violence and lying.

So, is “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” a new docu-series which was released on Netflix this week. 

Unlike Gems, the Hernandez documentary, while made for entertainment purposes, is non-fiction. I haven’t done a deep dive into the making of the series, but I’m willing to accept it as factual and not ripe with lies or untruths. Naturally, there are going to be parts of the series that some, probably those who stand to lose the most from exposing Hernandez as a closeted gay, deeply troubled human, who was convicted over murder before killing himself, who will say it’s fictional. Regardless, the movie is billed as, and represents itself as, the truth.

More on Hernandez can be learned here in the podcast “Gladiator.” The Spotlight Team – you know, the Boston Globe journalists who uncovered and published the conspiracy and crimes surrounding the scandal with the Catholic church and priests -are the authors of the podcast. It’s a great listen. 

But the pairing of the two “movies” which are not related in any way, isn’t a reminder that sometimes sports isn’t all about championships, trophies and screaming fans, it’s more than a reminder. It’s a punch in the privates that sports is often times dirty, seedy and unreliable. We don’t truly know the people in the shoulder pads and we certainly don’t appreciate that there is a constant criminal and nasty economic involvement in every touchdown, basket and home run. 

Odd that both of these “movies” would come out at roughly the same time, but it’s not odd, or even a bad thing, to be reminded that there is much more to sports than just following your favorite team and idolizing the players and coaches.

Andrew Gilman

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