Much like Potter Stewart and pornography, when it comes to a montage, you know it when you see it. But if for some reason you don’t, I’ll let Trey Parker and Team America define it for you:
The hours approaching, to give it your best
You’ve got to reach your prime.
That’s when you need to put yourself to the test
And show us a passage of time
Were going to need a montage (montage)
Ooh it takes a montage (montage)
Now that we’re as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer as to what a montage is, we can move onto the clips. Dozens of movies have employed the montage technique, but no genre has done so nearly as much as sports movies. And in particular, sports movies from the 1980s. In fact, it’s hard to find an 80s sports movie without a montage in it. I’ve assembled what I think are the best montages from 1980s sports movies, and you can check them out below.
Rocky IV (training)
Perhaps the most famous of all movie montages are the training montages from Rocky IV. I think I once read that 20% of Rocky IV is made up of montages, which is really pretty incredible if you think about it – 1/5 of a film being nothing but a prolonged music video. Still, Stallone and Lundgren were absolutely jacked (read: oozing steroids) during this movie, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was inspired to hit the gym hard after seeing this movie. I still remember hanging upside-down from the top bunk of my bunk bed trying to do Rocky-style sit ups.
Rocky IV (No Easy Way Out)
Another montage from Rocky IV, except this time, Rocky isn’t training. He’s mourning the loss of his friend Apollo, and what better way to do that than shift gears in your Lamborghini about 60 times while reminiscing about your boxing career? Great song, great clips, great montage.
What a shocker – another Rocky movie. In Rocky III, after getting absolutely pummeled by Clubber Lang, Rocky has to train hard for the first time since his fight with Apollo. No longer protected by Mickey and able to fight stiffs, Rocky has to abandon his glamorous circus-showcase style of training in favor of a more disciplined, grueling working from his ex-nemesis Apollo. And when there’s training, there’s a montage. And in the case of Rocky III, the most homoerotic hug of all time.
The best part about this montage is that we get to see my favorite character in the entire movie, the Monkey Man. What kind of fighting style is that? Monkey Man must have beaten many an ass in the past, otherwise he wouldn’t be in this tournament in the first place. I could seriously watch an entire movie about Monkey Man; Frank Dux and Chong Li are nothing compared to theallure of Monkey Man.
Sometimes a montage can be awesome, even if what’s happening on screen isn’t all that exciting. If there’s an incredible song, for example, the montage can be worth watching over and over and over – just like this one. There’s nothing terribly exciting or motivating about a bunch of kids using karate against each other, but I could watch a montage of a bunch of kids playing marbles if “You’re the Best Around” was blaring during their game. The best song to ever be played during a movie montage? Maybe not, but it’s in the conversation at worst.
Another great song, “Win in the End,” is played during this montage, in which Scott Howard plays his final basketball game in his human form instead of as his athletically-dominant lupine alter-ego. I’d say that Lois Freeman-Fox did a terrific job as editor of Teen Wolf, as making Michael J. Fox look like a halfway decent basketball player is no easy task, but then again, she kinda missed some dude exposing himself at the end of the movie.
The Cleveland Indians need to win a sh*tload of games to make the playoffs and avoid being sold by their greedy owner, so what better way to show a win streak than in a montage? Unfortunately, the only clip of the montage I could find was in Italian, but it doesn’t really take too much away from the montage at all. Besides, I kinda like hearing Coach Brown speak Italian.
Over The Top
Forget about the fact that Stallone appears in yet another montage – is there really a more effective way to show what’s unfolding at an arm wrestling tournament than through a montage? I imagine watching dozens of arm wrestling matches would get real old real fast.
Now, you may be thinking that Breakin’ isn’t a sports movie, but for these purposes, I think it’s fair to include it. Competitive breakdancers are incredibly athletic, and if things like curling are considered sports, then I say competitive breakdancing should be considered, too. I mean, Ozone and Turbo do things with their bodies that defy the laws of physics. Whatever your stance on breakdancing as a sport, you’ve got to agree that the montage from Breakin’ is pretty sweet.