Justin James Watt, Houston's holy anointed defensive end, decided to take a softball game back for the American public. And not just any American public, his American public. You see, for 364 days, Justin James Watt, son of Connie and John Watt, born in a giant manger in Wisconsin on the 22nd day of March 1989, has been awaiting the very day he could win the Home Run Derby at his Charity Softball Event. It was not about back surgeries, or revealing to the world that he finally had a girlfriend. No, J.J. had put in the time, the effort and the grueling Rocky 4 style rehab inside of a cabin (allegedly) to come back to Minute Maid Park and operate as if the fate of the free world depended on it.
With one mighty swing of the bat, Mighty J.J. not only brought bat-flips back to Minute Maid, he triumphantly proved that while Texans' regular season may be months away, he is in fine enough physical condition to destroy a softball with his bare hands. The powerful display, so swift and just, prompted Arnold Schwarzenegger to take off his hat, tip it towards J.J. and tell the world, “It would be easy for him to be an action star.”
The last defensive player to look good as a Hollywood action star was given the torch by the former Governor of California himself. In 2003, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starred in a movie entitled The Rundown. Rosario Dawson was in it. Seann William Scott was in it as comedic relief. Christopher Walken was the big bad. It was a very decent, to-the-point action movie in which The Rock walks into a bar just as Schwarzenegger is walking out. Arnold tells him, “Have fun.” Thus began the true film career of the guy we think could make a decent President one day.
Which made me think, who else in our local sports ecosystem could also be a decent movie star?
STARRING: Watt, Jennifer Aniston, Brian Cushing, Duane Brown & Nicholas Cage
PREMISE: Watt plays an American Hero has willfully retired from serving as a badass leader of a Navy Seal unit. He wants his family life back. And white T-shirts that show off all of his muscles. Suddenly, Russian forces storm in, kidnap his wife (played by his longtime real-life crush Aniston) and Watt has to wage a one man war against Russian-tied ISIS forces who decided to bring the fight to him. Oh, and the Russians have infiltrated the White House so it’s literally J.J. Watt saving the entire free world from enemy hands.
Now, imagine this.
Imagine J.J. Watt, all 6’6”, 290 pounds of him, with less than 4 percent body fat. Imagine him planting the American flag in some Russian big bad’s chest to fulfill every single 1980s action-movie fantasy we had when the Russians were first a big deal in Hollywood filmmaking. Imagine J.J. going full John Wick with his hands for two hours on a bunch of faceless bad guys with ISIS affiliation because he’s J.J. Watt and he believes in the American Way, the troops and making sure whatever weapon he has is American made? You wouldn’t watch J.J. Watt go full berserker in the name of Lady Liberty? And there's a possible montage moment in which Watt runs into Arnold’s John Matrix? It's too easy.
America needs beefcake action heroes more now than ever. We've gotten Stallone, Arnold, Van Damme, hell even Liam Neeson has owned the Action Movie Championship Belt in the past. Right now, it belongs to Keanu Reeves after a period in which he owned the belt with a film game changer (1999’s The Matrix) then took on a small straight to the point action flick in John Wick, made it a cult smash on cable and turned it into a wildly enjoyable sequel. America needs J.J. Watt to do what John Cena couldn't. For the troops. For bald eagles and Girl Scout cookies. For every try hard that ever tried extra hard. America needs Action Hero J.J. Watt.
MOVIE: Saving Privates Giles & Gregerson
STARRING: Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, John Goodman
PREMISE: As leader of a particular battalion in World War II, Altuve is called for a rescue mission. That mission? Saving a former arms supplier for native troops and his main stand in. What could go wrong? Everything. Altuve may be the shortest of his crew, and that includes a guy who has fancy belts (Josh Reddick), good hair who goes by one name (Yuli Gurriel), two Puerto Rican mashers (George Springer, Carlos Correa) and a fuzzy trinket he keeps around his wrist named Orbit, even though man has yet to even consider outer space, much less the moon.
Like in real life, Altuve is his crew’s non-vocal but deadly leader, capable of accuracy and long distance for a man who probably shouldn't be that good at either. Or even have been allowed into the military. He laughed off those Yankee boys from New York and punched a couple so-called Rangers when they questioned his manhood. He's seen the Depression years, the “lose over 100 battles and imagine the world laughing at you” years. Now it's he who wants to not only grab his two guys lost behind enemy lines taking fire in the dark of night, but lead his squad to surviving and having a Victory Parade, preferably in October.
Sending Altuve and company to save Gregerson and Giles out of a sticky situation seems too good to be true. Art imitating life, so to speak. The Houston brigade already has a wild cast of characters from the top down; this outfit is so peculiar that they can actually live up to on-paper predictions.
Count on “The Hitman,” even when the bombs and mortar shells go off.
MOVIE: A Few Screaming Texans
STARRING: O’Brien, Rick Smith, John McClain, Amy Adams
PREMISE: A corporate lawyer down on his luck. An executive breathing down his neck at every turn looking for results. O’Brien stars in the movie that is the far more dramatic version of shipping Brock Osweiler out of Houston to Cleveland and grabbing Deshaun Watson in the draft. Only different is, O’Brien can't control his temper and pretty much yells at everybody, including his wife (Amy Adams), who wants to do everything in her power to keep them in the city.
Courtroom dramas with this particular bunch seem ripe to occur, and no team in Houston contains more yearly madness attached to them than the Texans. O’Brien, working as a mid-level lawyer winning cases with the most porous of court results from star players, will prompt him to go around the office yelling “DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE RESULTS, BACK-TO-BACK SETTLEMENTS, BABY” and leave everyone clueless. But he and his boss (Smith) bringing on Osweiler with a possible out in regards to a high-profile client in Watson? Oh, there’s some tension to get there!
Of all the soap operas involving the Texans, none is more interesting if not awkward than the power struggle between O’Brien and GM Rick Smith. Of course they trade insults at one another and sit in on the verge of a court case that could derail everything. Defending a terrible client is one thing; now both OB and Smith have to work against the clock in a case neither of them can win — yet do. Oh, and McClain is here as the court reporter who smokes stogies and nobody gives any actual insight for fear of him blowing it all up for national papers and coffee in Tennessee.
STARRING: Murphy, Bill Worrell, Rudy Tomjanovich, Chad L. Coleman, Bill Pullman
PREMISE: Even at 5’9”, Calvin Murphy had the softest hands for basketball and the hardest ones for boxing. People knew you never tried Murph. Outside of a Houston boxing gym, Murphy has long since retired from the game, instead teaching people world-champion baton-twirling and how to maximize on free-throw shooting.
Suddenly, he gets a proposition. Word of his legendary boxing exploits on the court have reached the YouTube and Twitter generation. Seventeen unofficial NBA fights, 17 wins. He was denoted as the league’s shortest enforcer in the 1970s but still, it’s a legacy that sticks with him. Not down on his luck, Murphy refuses to show off his hands for the public, opting to stay low-key.
It's not until Pullman, operating as an even more zany carnival barker version of Vince McMahon tilts Murph’s hand. He has to fight, or his good friend Rudy Tomjanovich will die. What ensues is 10 straight fights of ridiculous knuckle work from a guy known to wear ridiculous suits every night on TV. You thought John Feinstein’s recollection of the Sidney Wicks fight was bad, imagine Murph and all 5’9” of him laying into people, even alleging that he would have killed Kermit Washington in Rudy’s honor the night Tomjanovich nearly died on the floor in the Forum.
Getting a new trainer (Coleman) and keeping Worrell nearby to call the fights makes it feel even more important. Until Pullman calls in a ringer, the son of former NBA big man Washington (think Kareem in Bruce Lee's Game of Death), who feels his father was wrongly hounded in the NBA after nearly killing Rudy T. Murphy’s got one last fight in him, not just for Rudy or Worrell. Or those ‘70s Rockets squads that went through growing pains before the ‘80s squads were derailed by cocaine and the Boston Celtics. Calvin Murphy is fighting for himself, because respecting Calvin Murphy is something you learn from birth.
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MOVIE: Being James Harden
STARRING: Harden, John Cusack, Mike D’Antoni, Daryl Morey, John Malkovich, George Wendt
PREMISE: Fast-forward to Game 5 of the 2017 Western Conference Semi-Finals. Stick to the third quarter and early part of the fourth with Harden controlling the game, turning the ball over but not as recklessly. The Rockets are on the verge of taking the game and driving a stake in the black heart of the Spurs in San Antonio. Well, you know what happened after that in reality. Harden had his soul taken from him Space Jam-style by Manu Ginobli and then he literally sleepwalked through Game 6.
No, we aren't giving James Harden his own Space Jam. Only winners get Space Jam-style movies. Here’s the untold story of that. Harden, despite his usual daze of strip-club affairs and other dalliances ironically has a door that leads directly to the inside of his body inside of Dreams. Cusack, posing as a writer for the Chronicle doing a feature on Harden, discovers the door. He goes in the tiny door and all of a sudden, he’s a 6’5” point guard who was a definite MVP candidate for 93 basketball games. You get to see Harden’s daily life, from Travis Scott showing up to Adidas reveals, dodging the paps and the daily beating he got discussing the MVP vote with Russell Westbrook. Because by Game 94, Game 6 against San Antonio, you’re unsure how everything unraveled or what can be determined. Did John Cusack control the body? Malkovich? Westbrook himself? It’s surreal to consider.
Just know we’re about to spend all summer speculating what the hell happened with Harden. Just as we’re ready to watch J.J. Watt turn into the image America wants to project from sea to shining movie screen.