Top 10 Gymnastics Movies
The Best of Gymnastics On the Silver Screen
Gymnastics is an awesome sport! It's exciting to watch the brave gymnasts complete dangerous routines on floor, bars, beam, and vault. I've been a gymnast for many years now, and I love the sport's beauty, grace and fearlessness.
Although the sport is not always represented well in films, it's fun to watch it go mainstream. Were you, like much of the world, inspired by the 2012 London Olympic gymnastics teams? Impressed with Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber? Unfortunately, the Summer Olympics only happens once every four years. By watching some of these fun gymnastics-themed movies, though, you can enjoy the beauty and fearlessness of the sport at any time.
Check out this list of gymnastics movies for more inspiration from a beautiful sport!
10. Gymkata: Worst Movie of the 80's
Ok, I lied. This list includes nine top gymnastics movies and one terrible one: Gymkata. Its scenes are so ridiculous that it's hard to believe this movie was not a comedy.
The plot: A top gymnast is recruited as a spy and must compete in a deadly competition known as "The games".
The gymnastics: The lead, Kurt Thomas was an American Olympic gymnast. This was probably his last feature film movie.
Conclusion: You can't watch this movie without cracking up in almost every scene! The acting is terrible and the plot ridiculous. I want to say it's so bad it's good, but I'm not sure it even qualifies for that dubious distinction.
Watch for yourself to see what I'm talking about:
9. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Lifetime Docu-drama
This movie is a Lifetime Original Movie based on a best-selling non-fiction book by Joan Ryan: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters.
The plot: The movie is about a girl who moves to LA in order to chase Olympic dreams. With a difficult coach and super hard training schedule, it shows young female gymnasts pushing their bodies to the limit in order to achieve perfection. How far will they go to reach their goals and dreams?
The gymnastics: The gymnastics performances in this movie are quite good and include a performance by the famous Deaf gymnast Aimee Walker.
Conclusion: This made-for-TV movie is the Lifetime channel's attempt to put all the crazy treatment of gymnasts documented in Ryan's book into a single, extra melodramatic story. The ending is a little trite, but the performances are excellent (especially Swoozie Kurtz as the mom).
8. American Anthem: An 80s Classic
The plot: Starring gymnastics and teen angst, this 1986 movie portrays a love story between two gymnasts who prepare together for the Olympic trials while overcoming personal hardships in their own lives.
The gymnastics: The main character, Steve, is played by real-life American Olympian Mitch Gaylord. With its bright 80s enthusiasm and impressive athletics, there's no better movie to make you feel like going out and learning gymnastics.
Conclusion: In many ways this is a classic genre mash-up of the 80s sports movie and 80s teen romance. Think Teen Wolf or Footloose if the main character were a gymnast instead of a dancer/young werewolf. It's a little goofy but great fun.
7. The Gymnast: A Tale of Self-Discovery
This story about a former gymnast discovering new love and meaning is a critically acclaimed feature film.
The plot: A former gymnast whose career was ended by an injury and is stuck in a loveless marriage finds her life changing after she meets a beautiful acrobat.
The gymnastics: Despite its title, this film does not actually include much gymnastics. It does, however, have wonderful scenes of both dance and acrobatics. The scenes of the two women learning aerial acrobatics are as thrilling feats of athleticism and beauty as one could hope for in a gymnastics movie.
Conclusion: Although not as gymnastics-focused as the other movies on this list, The Gymnast has a more complex and emotionally stirring narrative and incredible scenes of acrobatics.
6. Lefty: The One-Armed Gymnast
The plot: This family-friendly movie from 1979 is about the true story of a one-armed gymnast, (I didn’t believe it either!) Carol Johnston.
The gymnastics: Lefty is a documentary starring the actual gymnast, so the gymnastics in it is as excellent as you would expect.
Conclusion: It's an old movie which would be hard to find if it weren't luckily on YouTube! Sweet and inspiring, this movie is great for kids.
5. Gymnast: A BBC documentary
The plot: A behind the scenes look at the world of gymnastics, this documentary gives us a glimpse of the lives of a group of hopeful gymnasts. The girls have to deal with pressure from parents, coaches and hard schedules. By the way, some of the parents in here are INTENSE. These young women are willing to risk everything in order to get into the 2008 Olympics.
The gymnastics: Again, the athleticism here is both real and impressive. Worth watching for the gymnastics alone.
Conclusion: This is an interesting and inspiring documentary.These girls are DEDICATED.
4. Nadia: The Story Behind the First Perfect 10
The plot: Nadia Comaneci was the world's first perfect 10. This family-friendly film from 1984 tells the story of her life, beginning with her being found in a playground and ending with her becoming a legend.
The gymnastics: The film makes you realize how much hard work is put into the sport. Gymnasts start training very young and "miss" their childhoods. Nadia's "perfect 10" was the product of complete dedication. The gymnastics scenes really show the work that goes into that perfection.
Conclusion: I saw this film a few weeks ago. It was a little cheesy but cute at the same time.
Did you know?
Nadia Comaneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.0 in the Olympics. She did it at the 1976 Games and then went on to score six more 10.0s and win three gold medals.
3. Perfect Body: Eating Disorders and Gymnastics.
The plot: This sad story tells of a gymnast who becomes obsessed with getting the "perfect body" for gymnastics. It shows how her eating disorder takes over her life and destroys her.
The gymnastics: Amy Jo Johnson, star of the film Power Rangers, is the lead. Johnson spent time as a competitive gymnast before her acting career and perfectly blends her athletic and acting skills in this role.
Conclusion: Eating Disorders have long been associated with the gymnastics sport. The quest for perfection, the tight leotards and the super strict coaching may be to blame. This movie was riveting and gave me a lot to think about.
(Christy Henrich, a world class gymnast actually died from anorexia in 1994 after a long battle with eating disorders. Her tragic death brought worldwide attention to a darker side of the sport.)
2. Peaceful Warrior: Succeeding Against Odds
The plot: Dan Millman has it all: straight A's, girls, looks and friends. He's a flawless gymnast and close to making it to the Olympics. But a motorcycle accident "shatters" his leg and his Olympic dreams. They say he'll be lucky to walk. He wants more. This movie was based on the book by real Olympic gymnast Dan Millman.
The gymnastics: Peaceful Warrior uses stunt doubles for the gymnastics, but I could only tell because I looked it up. The scenes of Dan on the rings are as good as what you'd see in a real competition.
Conclusion: This movie will definitely inspire you. Plus, the lead actor, Scott Mechlowicz, is really hot! (He was the lead in Euro Trip). One of my all time favorites!
A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does— Peaceful Warrior
1. Stick It: It's Not Called Gym-NICE-tics!
And finally, my favorite movie and the gymnastic-themed version of Bring it On.
The plot: An ex-gymnast (Missy Peregym—who is fantastic here!) is forced to return to the world of gymnastics after an encounter with the law.
The gymnastics: This movie has it all: non-stop action, funny dialogue, beautiful actors and lots of daring gymnastics scenes!
Conclusion: Funny, creative, and entertaining, this is a brand new take on the world of gymnastics. Teens will especially love this one.
Stick It - stills from the filmClick thumbnail to view full-size
TV Show Honorable Mention: Make it Or Break it
The plot: They finally did it! Someone made a teenage mainstream TV show about gymnastics. The show is currently on season 3 and focuses on the journey to the Olympics of several elite gymnasts. Obviously there is lots of DRAMA: Boys, injuries, family problems...did I mention boys? These girls have a lot of guy drama.
The gymnastics: As a gymnast/ex-gymnast, you will at the very least get some laughs at the "gymnastics world" portrayal.
Conclusion: It’s not the most well done or inspiring show, but it is entertaining.