The 90s were definitely the golden age of live-action kids movies, especially sports stories. I grew up watching these tales of underdogs beating the “favorite,” of unlikely friendships being made through sport and competition, and of people figuring out who they truly are.
It was great to see these things happen as a kid, and I truly think it helped define my love of sports and “friendly” competition.
Hollywood hasn’t seen fit to give us a classic kid’s sports movie in quite some time, so let’s look back at the 8 best from the 90s.
1. Little Giants
Nothing is more American than pee-wee football. The Little Giants pits two brothers against each other, as coaches, as they each form a team to play for the right to represent their town in the football league.
In the end the brothers come together after realizing they are stronger together than they are apart, and they unite their town’s kids under the banner of a single team. Oh, and this movie also proves that girls can play football too.
2. The Mighty Ducks
What happens when you put a stuck up, high-priced lawyer forced to coach a youth hockey team, with a group of misfits who have a hard time even skating? You get The Mighty Ducks: a story of redemption, overcoming the odds, and realizing potential.
Joshua Jackson gave us the first taste of his talents as young Charlie Conway, and he played the role of angry pre-teen to perfection.
3. Angels in the Outfield
This movie was actually quite sad. Two young foster kids who love baseball are the center of the story. The elder of the kids asks his real dad “when are we going to be a family again?” His response, “when the Angels win the pennant.” Essentially telling his son that it will never happen. The boy prays, asking God to help the Angels win, and God actually answers by sending his angels down to help the team.
In the end the boys realize that family is more than blood, and they both live happily ever after.
4. Rookie of the Year
Another baseball movie makes this list. Most kids’ first dreams are to become professional athletes. In a lot cases you are more likely to win the lottery than make it to the pros. But after a freak accident causes a young boy to break his arm he is put in an upper-body cast. When the cast comes off, the boy realizes that he has the ability to throw a baseball harder than anyone else in the world. Through a series of hijinks he ends up as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and the hilarity just continues from there.
5. Space Jam
It didn’t get much better than mixing Bugs Bunny with Michael Jordan. At the point during the 90s that this movie came out they were likely two of the most recognizable faces in the world. When MJ enters Looney Tune Land to help the “tunes” play a basketball game against invading aliens, it gets a little crazy. MJ saves the day and rediscovers his love of basketball at the same time. Oh, and Bill Murray makes an appearance as himself as well.
6. The Sandlot
As much as this movie is about the love of baseball, it is more about making friends, trying to fit into a new town, and looking back on how we used to spend our days of summer vacation. This one was an instant classic, and with the help of James Earl Jones, The Sandlot shows up what we all left behind when we became “responsible” adults.
7. The Big Green
When it comes to living in Texas, soccer isn’t even on the same wavelength as football. But when one teacher from England is sent to an underachieving grade school in Texas, she decides to teach the kids the sport of her homeland. It helps to improve the kids’ self-esteem, and somehow the team starts to win, helping to solidify their love of the sport.
8. Air Bud
After seeing this movie, we all wished that our family dogs would be able to play basketball (or any sport really) as well as Buddy. As much as we know that this would never be allowed in real life, it was a feel good story about a boy and his dog. It is clean, enjoyable family fun. And really when a dog plays basketball, everybody wins.
Share if you grew up loving these movies.