Here we are on Day 3 of this amazing and award-winning project of mine to fill the void between now and the first game of the 2013 NFL season by watching random sports movies each day and writing about them as if they’re brand new. Some might argue that this is a somewhat exciting NFL offseason, what with the New England Patriots releasing star tight end Aaron Hernandez after he was arrested for his possible connection to a murder case, but those people clearly don’t understand the power of arm wrestling for child custody.
That’s right – today’s film is the 1987 Sylvester Stallone and ROBERT LOGGIA classic, Over the Top.
As opposed to the first two installments of this 73-part series, I’m going to break this one down into bullets points, because there are simply some areas of this film that need to addressed more than any others.
1) This is a film about arm wrestling for child custody
I’m a child of the 1980s, so I remember a lot of the second half of that decade despite having been so young. And maybe I was just a bright-eyed, optimistic little kid oblivious to the rest of the world, but I don’t really remember there being a big national demand for arm wrestling. However, here we are, staring into the bowels of the sport’s defining film, as the goal for the protagonist, Lincoln Hawk, was to win an arm wrestling tournament in Las Vegas so he could afford to buy a new semi-truck and start his own trucking company while earning back custody of his son Mike (even though he signed over said custody to his dead wife’s father, who was much wealthier and had raised the kid for 10 years).
Except, aside from the convenient ending of Jason Cutler (ROBERT LOGGIA) just being like, “Okay you won, take the kid you abandoned”, Lincoln still would have had to go through the entire legal process and prove that a trucker with a criminal history deserves custody of the kid he barely knows over the wealthy grandfather who has been paying for everything.
But then, I’m trying to make sense of the plot of a movie about ARM WRESTLING FOR CHILD CUSTODY.
2) LINCOLN HAWK!!!
God, the characters in 80s action movies had the best names. Lincoln Hawk might as well have had the power to sh*t American flags wrapped in lightning. Also, someone wrote in a script that was purchased by a studio that the truck driver had a weight machine in his truck cabin. F*ck texting and driving, bros.
3) The hat
Say what you want about this film – be it terrible or an ironic classic – if you tell me with only the most earnest sincerity that you’ve never turned your hat around just like Lincoln Hawk, I will tell you that you have never truly lived. I’ll also probably call you a liar.
4) The ending
The whole point of Lincoln going to Vegas and competing in the tournament was to bet on himself and win the grand prize of $100,000 and a new truck so he could go into business for himself. He sold his own truck for $7,000 when he got there and wagered that at 20-1. When he eventually won the tournament – I know, spoiler alert – he pulled in $140,000 on the bet to push his winnings to a truck and $240,000. Not too shabby.
However, Jason offered him $500,000 and a new truck to not even finish the tournament, so long as he left Mike behind and never bothered them again. Maybe it’s because I’m not a dad or a competitive arm wrestler, but I would have probably opted for the half-a-million and new truck before tipping my backwards cap and wishing everyone a good day.
But this is a film about love and meeting people halfway, and I think that we don’t ever give Stallone enough credit for the heart of this film… about arm wrestling for child custody.
5) Sylvester Stallone was paid $12 million for this film
Steven Spielberg recently admitted that with the money that is being spent on today’s biggest action films, it’s only a matter of time before the industry implodes and $200 million films tank, forcing studios to revert to smaller films with considerably lower budgets. I’d absolutely piss myself laughing if someone eventually blamed this on Over the Top.
6) Terry Funk, the actor
I feel like people don’t talk about Terry Funk as an actor as much as he deserves. He got his start in the 1978 Stallone film Paradise Alley and honed his craft as Prometheus Jones (seriously!) on the TV series Wildside. But Over the Top should have been the start of something bigger for him, at least in regard to films that required a redneckish thug type.
Some people may argue that his best movie role was as Morgan in Road House, and I can’t knock that, because that film should be shown to newborn babies and newly-elected Presidents, but Funk’s portrayal of Ruker in Over the Top was as gritty and impressive as they come. But I think we can also all agree that his finest acting moments came on the TV series Tequila and Bonetti.
7) The other villains
Between this guy…
… and this guy…
The 80s were such a great time for guys who looked like they belonged in movies about arm wrestling to be alive.
8) Bull Hurley
I remember watching this film as a kid and thinking, “That dude is one big, scary son of a bitch.” As I watched this today – yep, he’s still one big, scary son of a bitch. But you know what? He’s also a loser because Lincoln Hawk rules.
9) Why is everyone so sweaty?
Take some of that arm wrestling cash and get yourselves some air conditioning. At least wear deodorant. I’d be super pissed if I showed up to compete and everyone smelled like Alabama.
10) The Over the Top action figure
There was an action figure made for this film, which begs the question – What do you do with an arm wrestling action figure?
Do you make it arm wrestle other action figures? Did the producers think that a film about arm wrestling for child custody was going to be such a huge hit that they could establish a franchise and create more Lincoln Hawk toys? Where can I even buy one of these?
11) “Meet Me Halfway”
Kenny Loggins, son. Don’t ever doubt the greatest.
UPDATE: 12) Sammy Hagar’s “Winner Takes It All”
This cannot be ignored, especially because the name of the song is “Winner Takes it All” and not simply “Winner Takes All”.
Final Grade: 4/4 proud arm wrestling sons