With “Britain’s Got Talent” turning Susan Boyle into an international household name overnight, I have been thinking a lot about other great underdogs, real and fictional, that have captured my heart and mind over the years.
As a society we do love a good underdog story and there have been many great ones captured on film. So as a way of meditation on the possibility of second chances, I have compiled a list of my favorite movie underdogs. I decided to stay away from groups of underdogs (“Remember the Titans,” “Hoosiers,” etc.) and decided to focus more on individual characters who no one believed in, but were given a second chance to go on to accomplish something inspirational.
Even then, I had a lot of great movies to choose from, so feel free to add to my list in the comments box below.
Homer Hickam in ‘October Sky’: I just caught this movie on cable over the weekend, and I was reminded how this is one of the better movies featuring an underdog that is not sports related. Homer Hickam’s desire to get out of the coal mines and win a science fair and obtain a college scholarship represents the true possibilities of the human mind to overcome one’s environment.
Forrest Gump in ‘Forrest Gump’: As famous for its catch phrases as it is for its leading man, Tom Hanks, this movie is one of the quintessential looks at an unlikely American hero living out the American dream.
Billy Elliott in ‘Billy Elliott’: This is actually one of my favorite dance movies ever, and it’s also an often overlooked film. Instead of having a talent for boxing, Billy has a talent for ballet. His working class Irish father isn’t quite so accepting of this news at first, but eventually realizes Billy can dance his way to a better life.
Daniel Larusso in ‘The Karate Kid’: Brought to us by the same director who helped create “Rocky,” this movie is for everyone who has been badgered by a bully and wanted to have the last word.
Seabiscuit in ‘Seabiscuit’: As unlikely a champion as there has ever been in horse racing, Seabiscuit was a horse who others thought was weak and lazy. In the right hands, Seabiscuit became the ultimate symbol of a come-from-behind, rags-to-riches story during the Great Depression.
Vivian Ward in ‘Pretty Woman’: Wag your finger at me all you want but this urban fairytale is still a favorite story of how a makeover and a second chance can lead to happily ever after.
Daniel Ruettinger in ‘Rudy’: Another true story about a short kid who becomes a walk on for Notre Dame’s football team. Rudy inspires his teammates with his resilience and faithfulness even as he spends most of his career on the sidelines.
Babe in ‘Babe’: It’s a tough call–Babe or “Charlotte’s Web” pig Wilbur, but in the end, I gave to vote for the pig who wanted to be a sheep dog. I try to live by those famous words, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”
Jim Morris in ‘The Rookie’: Jim Morris didn’t think he would ever make it to the big leagues, but the aging science teacher gives it one last chance. At least for a short time, dreams really can come true no matter your age.
Rocky Balboa in ‘Rocky’: Did you honestly think there was going to be any other name at the top of the list? I thought about it, but Rocky is so completely ingrained in movie lore that I have no choice but to say that Rocky is the most inspiring bum to ever grace the big screen.