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Based on true events in the lives of the Shue family (including "Melrose Place" cast member Andrew and "Leaving Las Vegas" Oscar nominee Elisabeth), "Gracie" aims to be a heart-tugging "family facing adversity" drama. But this sappy, formulaic tribute to girl-power feels more like a Lifetime movie with pieces of "She's the Man" and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" mixed in.

Directed by "An Inconvenient Truth" filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, the movie centers around the blue-collar, New Jersey-based Bowen family who, thanks to patriarch Bryan (Dermot Mulroney), live and breathe soccer. Tragedy strikes when eldest son Johnny, a soccer prodigy and captain of his high school's championship-bound team, dies in a car accident.

Wanting to honor her brother's memory, Gracie (the fiery Carly Schroeder) decides to train and, in nine months time, try out for the team. Unfortunately for her, the year is 1978, Title IX is not in existence yet and girls aren't allowed to play with the boys. Even her own father is skeptical, but, after much persuasion, Bryan drops his "you're not tough enough" attitude and agrees to be her coach. An eternity of training and jogging montages ensue before Gracie can win school board approval to try out and officially join the team.

"Gracie" is clearly a family affair (Andrew Shue produces and has a small role, Elisabeth Shue stars as Gracie's mom and Guggenheim is Elisabeth's real life husband) and admirably based on some painful true events. It's too bad such a well-intentioned movie tells a story audiences have seen so many times before.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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FamilySportsEducationEntertainmentMoviesMovie IndustryDrama (genre)