Gus (1976)

The Disney live action world of the 1970s is the kind of place where a Yugoslavian goat can come to America, get a job in the California Atoms NFL franchise and interact with owner Hank Cooper (Ed Asner) and Coach Venner (Don Knotts) and not a single person mentions how completely on drugs the entire thing is.

I also love that the NFL helped make this movie and Asner’s character is so in debt from gambling that he makes a deal with bookies Charles Gwynn (Harold Gould) and Cal Wilson (Dick Van Patten). If the Atoms win the Super Bowl, all gambling debts will be forgiven. If they lose, the crooks will take ownership of the team.

Originally, Gus was just going to perform in the halftime show, But Coach Venner puts him in a game and that venerable rule of movies shows up: there’s no rule in the books that says your kicker has to be human!

Also — the fact that a kicker can help win footabll games is a weird concept, as field goals only get three points, so basing the entire offense around an animal that can only get half the score of a touchdown seems kind of shortsighted. I mean, if the rule books are so illogical, why not have a gorilla on the defensive line?

At this point I wondered, how can this movie get any better? Could it also have two 70s comedy stars as gangsters? The mouse heard my prayers and rewarded me with Crankcase (Tim Conway) and Spinner (Tom Bosley), whose scheming cause the Atoms to lose two games.

Look, any movie that unites Bob Crane, Johnny Unitas and Dick Butkis is going to be something I’ll watch. I have a strange weakness for movies that make an utter mockery of the game of football, to be frank.

Director Vincent McEveety was all over the 70s Disney map, making everything from The Castaway Cowboy to The Strongest Man in the WorldSuperdad and two Herbie movies. His last directing job was a TV movie that united Markie Post and Robert Urich called Stranger at My Door, which is completely the kind of movie that I spend weeks tracking down.

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