After one of her brothers is killed in a car accident, 15-year-old Gracie (Carly Schroeder) works to replace him on the soccer team despite the objections of her father (Dermot Mulroney) and the coach's reluctance to play a girl. Set in late '70s New Jersey, the film is loosely based on the real-life experiences of actress Elizabeth Shue (Oscar nominated for "Leaving Las Vegas"), who plays Gracie's mom. It also co-stars Shue's brother Andrew ("Melrose Place") and is directed by Elizabeth's husband Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth").
Big question: Is this a story about the impact of Title Nine--which advanced equality for females in sports--or just a random slice of Shue's past?
Skip it: Only mentioning Title Nine as an afterthought, this low-impact sports story is more interested in telling a routine tale of persistence that eventually feels a lot like "Rudy." All the Disney-style lessons about encouragement and toughness can't account for the characters' persistent and unexamined misogyny.
Catch it: If you want proof that it's not only Freddie Prinze Jr. movies that feature teens making bets on their sexual activity (as evidenced by Gracie's classmates). And, no, a comparison to a Freddie Prinze Jr. flick is not a compliment.
Bottom line: "Gracie" is so heavy-handed that it actually incorporates a bird growing too big for its cage as a symbol for its heroine. Between the schmaltzy messages about family and the super-sweet on-field heroics, this is cheese washed down with syrup. Yuck.
Bonus: You could fashion a decent drinking game if you just take a sip every time a character says Gracie's name, though you'd be tanked after five minutes!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim; screenplay by Lisa Marie Petersen, Karen Janszen; story by Andrew Shue, Ken Himmelman and Guggenheim; photographed by Chris Manley; edited by Elizabeth Kling; music by Mark Isham; production design by Dina Goldman; produced by Guggenheim, Andrew Shue, Elisabeth Shue and Lemore Syvan. A Picturehouse release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:34. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for brief sexual content).
Grace Bowen - Carly Schroeder
Bryan Bowen - Dermot Mulroney
Lindsay Bowen - Elisabeth Shue
Coach Clark - Andrew ShueCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times