Terrific, underrated Disney comedy
james d. leverton | San Marcos, Ca United States | 09/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In my opinion, "The World's Greatest Athlete" may very well be the best Disney comedy of the '70's, even better than "Freaky Friday" or "Apple Dumpling Gang." It's also incredibly underrated, with Leonard Maltin seemingly alone among major critics in loving it. Without giving anything away, it is a goofy, inspired slapstick comedy with a terrific cast including an absolutely hilarious Tim Conway as an inept assistant coach, a well-cast Jan-Michael Vincent as a superathlete, the wonderful Roscoe Lee Browne, rising above his stereotypical, potentially offensive role as
an African witch-doctor, and the wonderful Nancy Walker as a blind landlady who mistakes a tiger for a drunken
frat boy. But top acting honors go to John Amos as the losingest college coach in history. The fact that he is black is important to the story set-up, but is completely uncommented on in the film and therefore makes the film ahead of its time, at least for Disney studios, who I believe had never before had a black lead actor in one of its films. This is also the film in which Howard Cosell plays himself in a hilarious bit and delivers the great line: "I have never seen anything like this in my entire illustrious career!"The only reason I don't give "The World's Greatest Athlete" better than a *** rating is that it isn't yet available in the remastered, wide-screen special edition DVD it deserves. Come on, Disney, get on the ball. You have a real gem in your vault and you act like you don't even know it."
Rolling the dice on a Disney DVD? We have a winner!
Glenn M. Schoditsch | Richmond, Virginia USA | 04/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is an excellent example of live-action Disney from the 1970's. A fun film for everyone starring Jan-Michael Vincent as a superathlete raised in the rain forrest (what we used to call the jungle), Roscoe Lee Browne as his mentor, the very funny Nancy Walker as a 'blind as a bat' landlady, and the ever comic genius, Tim Conway. The best suprise is a very funny performance from actor John Amos as a track coach with a dismal win-loss record.
Disney Studios is graciously presenting this fine movie in its Original Aspect Ratio of 1.85:1. Why this movie and not others is, well, typical Disney mentality. But I guess we take 'em as we get 'em and Disney gets my money. Too bad "That Darn Cat, The Barefoot Executive and Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N." missed the 'letterbox boat'!
Plus if you remember seeing this movie, I'd like to learn to park my car at the airport like in the movie.
Jan-Michael Vincent Saves the Day
gobirds2 | New England | 05/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently watched it again and it holds up very well. It is quite funny and still works today. A lot of credit has to go to John Amos as Coach Sam Archer. He gave this silly but entertaining film a lot of character and its his vision to make jungle boy Jan-Michael Vincent the next sports super star to give new life to all his coaching efforts. Jan-Michael Vincent really looked good in this Disney movie. Jan-Michael Vincent could have been a very good star. Too bad things turned bad for him. These were his glory days. He makes a great Disney hero in THE WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETE. This film really looks great on DVD and it truly is a lot of fun