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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alex & Me is about a young female athlete who learns important lessons about hard work, perseverance, and teamwork. Soccer superstar Alex Morgan, making her movie debut, helps guide a girl named Reagan (Siena Agudong) as she tries to recover from her disappointment at being cut from a team and focus on putting in the work necessary to succeed. Reagan's parents are initially distracted and overly focused on her older brother, but they ultimately support Reagan and her dreams. A local youth soccer coach lies about his credentials and background. He forces his team to trespass, since he has no access to fields for practice. A rival soccer player pushes and taunts Reagan. A dad pays his daughter to score goals. Reagan has a sweet friendship with a soccer-loving boy; they seem to have a crush on each other but there's no kissing or romantic talk.
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What's the story?
Thirteen-year-old Reagan Willis (Siena Agudong) is having a tough time. All she wants to do is play soccer like her idol, Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Alex Morgan (playing herself), but instead Reagan is devastated to be cut from her local club team, the Crush. She looks to her parents for support, but they're too focused on her older brother, Logan (Matt Cornett), who's a football superstar and deciding which of many college scholarships he should accept. Frustrated and about to rip down her beloved life-sized poster of Alex, Reagan hits her head. Suddenly, Alex's poster comes to life, and Alex Morgan is in her bedroom. At first Reagan thinks she's seeing things, since nobody else can see Alex, but she starts to believe when Alex begins to train Reagan every day. It's not easy waking up early to do drills, skipping time with friends to work her left foot or charting how many pushups she can do. But slowly Reagan starts to improve, and the ragtag soccer team she joins, the Breakaways, also improves as the other team members follow Reagan's example and step up their training. The team faces challenges, including not having a field to play on or a qualified coach. With Alex by her side, Reagan refuses to let these stumbling blocks get in the way, and the team recruits a new coach, finds a new field, and starts enjoying some success on the soccer field. But just as they're about to play a pivotal game, Reagan bumps her head again. This time, when she awakens, Alex is nowhere to be found. Can Reagan continue building on the hard work and discipline that Alex inspired without her hero by her side?
Is it any good?
This is an inspiring, sweet sports tale that will resonate with the whole family. Kids will relate to Reagan's disappointment at being cut from a team and her frustration at being in the shadow of her talented older brother. They'll also love the soccer action and seeing superstar Alex Morgan in her role as a firm but encouraging guide. Morgan comes across as very genuine as she talks about her own experiences with youth soccer. When Reagan laments that her "ship has sailed" because she didn't make the Crush at age 13, Morgan reassures her that she didn't even start playing until she was 13, which reminds kids that it's never too late to find a passion. Parents will get a laugh at the movie's depiction of the high-stakes world of youth soccer, in which overly competitive parents pay their kids to score goals, hire professional film crews to record games, and trust that any coach with an English accent knows what he's doing. And everyone will appreciate the movie's lessons about hard work; it doesn't sugarcoat the fact that it isn't always fun to be committed to a goal. While Reagan initially resents her older brother's success, she eventually recognizes how much time he spends training and realizes that he became a superstar by putting in the time. As she learns to do the same, the siblings bond over goal charts they create, tracking their progress and encouraging each other.
Alex & Me isn't perfect; even kids will be able to guess the outcome of the final game. Kids who've seen lots of underdog sports movies will find lots of familiar territory here. But the story's predictability doesn't take away from the important messages, which are always balanced with humor. Overall, this is a wonderful film that celebrates family, friends, and the love of sport.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about inspiring sports movies. How does Alex & Me compare to other movies about underdogs? Why are underdog movies so popular? What can we learn from them?
Alex Morgan talks about how she and other members of the U.S. women's soccer team practice every day to achieve their goals. Reagan and her brother make charts to track their progress. What can you do to make your dreams come true?
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2018
- Cast: Alex Morgan, Siena Agudong
- Director: Eric Champnella
- Studio: Warner Brothers
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 72 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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