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Overall Rating
2.76

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 24%
Just Average: 28%
Pretty Crappy48%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 1 rating


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Gracie
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by Erik Childress

"Shue Never Needed LaRusso To Handle Those Balls"
2 stars

Did you know that when she was growing up, Elisabeth Shue wanted to be a soccer player? Sounds like one of those half-hearted anecdotes you would get on a talk show or junket interview, but it’s the truth. There’s a film that even proves it with a quote during the final credits directly from the one-time Oscar nominee. In film school, a screenwriting teacher once told me that your own life is never as interesting to anyone else as it is to you. And yet, write what you know. He was schizophrenic. Anyway, who was going to give the Shue family that advice as they set out to produce this tribute to their family. It begins with a dedication to the sibling Elisabeth and Andrew Shue lost and becomes an underdog story in his memory. Moments it certainly has as it tries at times to break from the conventions of the genre, but in the end fails to convince us of the one element it so desperately wants to prove to every doubting Thomas on screen.

Gracie (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl besides mom (Elisabeth Shue) in the Bowen household. She spends a good portion of her time with her elder brother, Johnny (Jesse Lee), the star of the family under the watchful tutelage of Dad (Dermot Mulroney), a former soccer player himself who sees his son as a “natural” and his daughter just a “girl.” It’s an unfortunate rule of the movies that sibling relationships as strong as Gracie and Johnny’s are destined for tragic ends (see: Stand By Me) and it’s a car accident that takes Johnny forever. In honor of her late brother, Gracie announces to the family that she plans to take his place on the varsity soccer team and is laughed at for it. As dad tries to prove to her she’s not tough enough to take what the boys can dish out on the field, Gracie takes the Thirteen route instead, losing herself to bad grades, bad vices and bad boys.

Seeing his daughter exhibiting such destructive behavior and not wanting to “lose another child”, dad tests Gracie’s determinism and begins training her. Getting in shape proves to be the easy part though. The school doesn’t have a girl’s team. The boys team doesn’t want her. Letters written in protest fall on deaf ears who would rather offer her a spot on the field hockey team. Worst, and certainly, the most pressing issue is whether any of that would matter if Gracie wasn’t good enough to earn it. Sure she can kick a ball. But can she do it when it counts and will she be on her feet long enough to attempt it on a field where she’s viewed as an easy target?

The answer to that question is a resounding “no.” That’s not coming from a boy’s world perspective or the stereotypes that come with two sets of push-ups. While doing fine work otherwise, Carly Schroeder is never able to elevate the athletics of the role to make us believe the guys aren’t taking it easy on her; a lesson dad demonstrates against on one occasion. And for a while even the movie appears to pick up on this unfortunate fact. But then with a casual desperation it wants us to accept the “anyone can do anything” cliché on blind faith and the need for an inspirational finale. Gracie may be trained to treat the dotted ball like an egg, but her little kicks on the field are so dainty you’d think she was trying to pry it from under a chicken’s ass. Are we to be impressed because Gracie can shoot a free kick? That’s the easiest thing to do on a soccer field next to a throw-in. Video games are based solely around the free kick. It’s about as dubious an achievement as an armless player leading the leagues in the least handball penalties. I may be able to log 75% at the free throw line. Doesn’t mean my 5’7” ass belongs in the NBA.

But enough picking on the sporting asthetic the film is built around. As a drama it’s certainly a watchable affair. Mulroney does nice work as dad even as he’s written all over the map in the second half. Andrew Shue does more nonsensical staring than Dan Hedaya in Nixon. Elisabeth Shue does the concerned secondary parent thing as she did in the much better sports underdog film, Dreamer, but does get to deliver the big “give her a shot” speech about her daughter that’s actually herself. Babe Ruth did a better job listening to the big speech in The Pride of the Yankees than Shue does convincing us that those knee kicks in The Karate Kid made her the female Pele. It’s a nice sentiment that somehow Gracie’s story is connected to Brandi Chastain’s free kick sports bra delight at the World Cup. But I can’t imagine it even led to the girls who played in my public leagues back in grade school. They were good enough to cover Gracie’s face in egg.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16216&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/01/07 00:00:00
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User Comments

10/23/07 William Goss Well-shot true-life girl's soccer tale is a bit better than it should be. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  01-Jun-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Sep-2007

UK
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