clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The best basketball movies on Disney Plus, according to Disney Plus’ bizarre search function

Avatar is a basketball movie

a bunch of blue aliens play basketball 20th Century Fox
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Disney Plus boasts an immense back catalogue, from beloved animated classes to some kooky forgotten live-action movies, from nostalgic DCOMs to newly-acquired Fox staples like The Simpsons. Amidst all the titles, surely there is an easy way to search for that favorite childhood movie that you can’t quite remember the name of.

Well, not really. Disney Plus’ search is a little borked.

OK, it’s very borked. Let’s say you’re looking for a quality basketball movie: You search for “basketball” because you can’t quite remember the name of that DCOM with the twin basketball players (Double Teamed); or the one with the Irish boy who plays basketball (Luck of the Irish); or the one with the Jewish basketball team (Full Court Miracle); or the one with Zac Efron as Troy Bolton that was also a musical (duh, High School Musical); or the biopic about Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Haskins (Glory Road). These movies are or will be available at Disney Plus in the immediate future, but the service doesn’t alley-oop! those for ease of streaming. Instead, you get a handful of titles that, at least at first glance, are unrelated to basketball.

Ah, yes the iconic basketball movies
Disney Plus

Why does Disney Plus consider these movies top-tier basketball movies? Let’s evaluate the offerings.

Zapped (2014)

In this Disney Channel Original Movie, Zendaya’s character receives a mysterious app that allows her to control people. Basketball is actually tied into this movie since the crux of the plot happens at a basketball game, and Zendaya is part of the school’s dance team that regularly practices on the basketball court. While not a movie about a basketball player like Full Court Miracle, the sport still drives the plot along. Valid recommendation, Disney Plus search engine.

The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

The professor uses his Flubber compound on basketball players shows to help them win a game. It’s not the only thing the Flubber gets used for, but the game is a pivotal moment. Does it mean that The Absent-Minded Professor is more of a basketball movie than Double Teamed? According to Disney Plus, yes.

Flubber (1997)

Since Flubber is a remake of The Absent-Minded Professor, it borrows similar plot points, including the Flubber serum making basketball player shoes extra bouncy. Unlike the original, basketball is not as tied to key plot points in the Robin Williams redux. Still, it’s enough for the Disney Plus search algorithm to beat out Luck of the Irish.

Avatar (2009)

Yes, they do play basketball in James Cameron’s space epic about blue aliens. For all of 12 seconds! Apparently Jake Sully’s team-building exercise is so essential to the character arc that Avatar is more of a basketball movie than all three High School Musical movies.

Black Panther (2018)

At the beginning of the film, we do see Young Killmonger play basketball ... right before his father’s death. Also, the last scene of the movie has T’Challa return Stateside to a basketball court. So ... that kinda counts ... as a “basketball movie”? Never mind the rest of the movie that happens between — Black Panther starts with basketball and ends with basketball. It’s also not actually available on Disney Plus until March, but that doesn’t stop Black Panther from beating out Glory Road (available in December) as a basketball movie.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon