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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Drama is bland but teaches girls about competitive rowing.

Movie PG 2012 89 minutes
Backwards Poster Image

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Part failure-to-launch tale and part inspirational sports film, BACKWARDS is a movie that hinges completely on the performance of its star, and Thomas comes up short. While there's no doubt about her love of rowing (the title is a reference to the fact it's the only sport where you win going "backwards"), she lacks the charisma necessary to pull off such an obvious star vehicle. Not to mention that the film seems to take itself and its protagonist far too seriously. There's no joy (at least out of the water), no humor, no chemistry to speak of -- with Abi's potential love interest, her students, or even her mom.

One of the movie's few memorable scenes is a small but telling moment when a distraught, restless Abi gorges herself on Tootsie rolls, stuffing them in her mouth as if their sticky sweetness can erase the overwhelming sense of failure she feels. There's no dialogue, but the act is a poignant reminder of everything Abi sacrificed to train for four -- really eight -- years, but it still wasn't enough. Eventually Abi's dream comes true, but it comes at a cost she's not willing to pay. Hoosiers or Remember the Titans this isn't, but at least, for once, it's about the ambition of female athletes.

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