Who's in It:
Carly Schroeder, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Andrew Shue
The Basics: Inspirational Sports Movie No. 67,349. Teenage girl wants to play soccer but has to deal with loss of brother and anti-girl prejudice. (It's the not-so-distant '70s, when people still called it women's lib and girls actually had to fight against people who believed they should all be cheerleaders and homecoming queens instead of jocks.). Yet she emerges triumphantly in sudden-death overtime.
What's the Deal? I don't know how they did it, but they managed to take this dull, worn-out, done-to-death template and bludgeon its skull full of sweetness and decency. It's the answer to the question: "When will someone make a boring sports movie about my particular niche game and demographic participant? One that will make me feel all warm inside?" It must be a harder genre to tackle than even I know because they keep making them, and I keep dreading seeing them, and then about 50 percent of them still manage to be watchable, though I know exactly what's coming next in every scene.
What Keeps It Going: Young Schroeder, whose performance is the kind you get charmed by even as you you're being conned and manipulated. I hate that I allowed myself to get all "pumped up" over this. I hate sports. Like, all of them. And I'm not all that big on Andrew Shue, either. I always thought he was the most irritating cast member on Melrose Place. So that this works at all just feels like some kind of Criss Angel magic trick.
Based on a True Story: Apparently, the real Gracie was Elisabeth Shue (whose husband Davis Guggenheim, director of An Inconvenient Truth, directed this). She had to battle her own New Jersey town for the right to play when she was young. Whatever else might or might not be true here is up in the air.
Not Nearly as Good As: Bend It Like Beckham. But little soccer-playing girls who don't understand British accents will really dig this.