The American sports movie always proceeds in the same fashion. A ragtag group of misfits and nitwits come together, put aside their personal problems and form a team. There will be a mandatory training montage, a romantic entanglement, a moment of great doubt and a coach who really believes. Together they prove, somehow, to be much more than the sum of their parts — and, reliably, the joint solution to all of their personal problems. Finally, we see the big game, which our heroes win against all odds.
There are variations on this narrative. Perhaps the movie concerns an individual sport such as boxing or tennis, so there’s only one misfit; sometimes an assistant coach can’t actually overcome his drinking problem; sometimes the romance falls apart. But the basic structure is rarely violated. Sports movies deploy the communal values of teamwork and the pseudo-democratic ideal that hard work can get you anywhere to tell that most beautiful Hollywood story: America is a nation of underdogs who persevere and ultimately overcome.
This is pure ideology, of course. But it’s quickly growing outdated. There’s a new breed of sports movie in town, one that does away with all that pesky team building and ersatz democracy. These films celebrate the real heroes of sports, the real heroes of any workplace: the bosses.