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Gracie is the latest film in the “sports movie based on true events” genre that has been so popular in recent years. But it wasn’t marketed that way. Chances are, if you saw a commercial or a preview for Gracie, it was dismissed as another tear-jerker inspirational sports movie. They’re all the same, right? Well, yes, they are. This one is much smarter than it gives itself credit for.
Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroder) is the only girl in her family and has to constantly compete with her four brothers who happen to excel in soccer. Her father, Bryan (Dermot Mulroney), is also the family soccer coach, having been a soccer star in his younger years. The star of the family is obviously Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer). Johnny is the captain of the team. Soccer comes naturally to him. But even though he’s the best soccer player in town, he’s also very kind-hearted, always giving his younger sister the opportunity to play with the boys. Tragedy suddenly strikes the Bowen family, leaving them without their star player, and the entire family is understandably grief-stricken. Gracie decides she wants to honor her brother by taking his place on the varsity team, but is greeted with obstacles every step of the way.
The film is set in the seventies, and girls are not allowed to play soccer. It’s considered a “boy’s sport.” Girls aren’t interested in playing, and the male coaches are quite biased. When Gracie decides she wants to try out for the team, everyone is opposed. Her mother, played by Elisabeth Shue, thinks that soccer is too rough for her. Her father, the one who is coaching her, thinks that she can’t do it. Her friends think that she’ll be labeled as homosexual for even wanting to play soccer. If a girl were to try out for a boy’s team in today’s world, would she be given the same resistance?
This is what really makes the film shine brighter than the other feel good sports films. It’s about girls succeeding in a man’s world. The story could have been told in 1977, or 2007, and it would still be just as powerful.
However, as empowering as the story is, it does suffer in some places by poor pacing. After the tragic death of Johnny, Gracie does some rebelling. She experiments with smoking cigarettes and a little with boys. Honestly, this is something that should have been left out of the film, or handled in a better way. At the heart of the story, we have a female underdog trying to achieve a lofty goal. A story that should be told to women and girls of all ages. Unfortunately, with these very teenaged situations that helped this film earn its PG-13 rating, not all girls will be allowed by their parents to see this film now during its popularity. Since it is a sports film, it will most likely get shuffled to the bottom of the bargain DVD bin and will be forgotten shortly. Most girls in their prime influential years will not get to see this movie because of the way too mature subject matter that is awkwardly interjected. The film could have benefited greatly by editing these scenes and making it more of a family friendly PG movie.
Despite the PG-13 scenes in the first half of the film, the second half really quickens the pace and engages the audience in Gracie’s story. Her failures and her triumphs are really real, and the audience feels for her. When she loses, we are upset for her. When she wins, we want to cheer for her. And intertwined with the sports theme, a great family story is told that is inspirational as well. The family that was torn apart by tragedy is brought back together by sharing a common goal and a common support in their only daughter, Gracie.
Presented in a 16×9 2.35 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, the film looks great. The climactic soccer games are brilliant and gritty with the picture quality and sound, making them seem very real.
Being as this film was a family affair, the commentaries are actually very entertaining. One commentary is provided by the director, Davis Guggenheim (real-life husband of Elisabeth Shue), and the other is given by Elisabeth Shue and Andrew Shue. There is also an exceptional behind the scenes featurette that I would recommend watching before the film instead of after. Since Gracie was inspired by true events, it’s very interesting to learn about the real-life people who inspired this movie. In this case, it’s the Shue family.
|The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Gracie
||RATING(OUT OF 10)
||7(NOT AN AVERAGE)|
The Inside Pulse
Perhaps if it were edited to appeal to the younger crowd, Gracie would be a great movie. Instead, it’s a great movie that couldn’t find an audience. Adults dismissed it as a kid’s movie, and parents with kids were put off by the PG-13 rating. Hopefully on DVD, or when it gets edited for television, more girls will have the opportunity to catch this truly touching, inspiring movie.