Miracle in Lane 2

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Miracle in Lane 2 Movie Poster Image
Sports biography challenges the perceptions of disability.
  • G
  • 2000
  • 89 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The movie teaches about disability and issues of fairness in sport.

Positive Messages

The movie encourages believing in yourself, finding your own path, and going for your dreams. Themes include family, overcoming adversity, and making sport accessible for all.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character, Justin, refuses to be defined by his spina bifida or wheelchair. He is strong, brave and, determined, though he occasionally lies, sneaks around, and manipulates people. His parents are loving and allow him as much fun and freedom as possible, while his brother, Seth, is initially frustrated by him, but grows to be supportive. The stereotype of a man living on his own being lonely and mean is initially leaned upon, but he is able to work through his issues and become a part of the family. Justin speaks to "God" who takes the form of famous racing car driver Bobby Wade.

Violence & Scariness

A character passes out and crashes a soapbox car, resulting in cuts to the face and a scene in a hospital operating theater. A funeral is shown, and there is mention of the death of a child and spouse, as well as further mention of death, illness, and surgery. Passing reference is made to torture racks, burning at the stake, war, and famine. Some verbal hostility between characters.

Sexy Stuff

Parents hug and kiss on the lips. There is mention of strawberry massage oil and the implication that they are sneaking upstairs to use it.

Language

Occasional derogatory terms are used, including those referring to disability and mental health, such as "cripple," "crazy," "nuts," "cuckoo," "wacko," and "dense," as well as "a crock."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character takes medicine to help a stomach ache.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Miracle in Lane 2 is a Disney family sports drama inspired by the real life of Justin Yoder, the first disabled child to drive a soapbox in the All-American Soap Box Derby. The film focuses on the 13-year-old Justin (Frankie Muniz) who despite his spina bifida and his use of a wheelchair, helped pave the way to make the sport more inclusive. Justin is a well-rounded character who pushes for his freedom and gets into mischief, just like any other teen. However, there is discussion of his medical condition, surgery, and his potential death, as well as the death of other characters. A soapbox crash is shown, resulting in cuts to the head and a scene in hospital. Justin's family is kind and supportive, though an argument between him and his older brother, Seth, involves mental health insults -- "wacko" and "cuckoo" -- and one of them saying "I wish you were dead." The film deals with some difficult issues, and shows instances of discrimination, including the use of language such as "cripple." But ultimately this is a fun and uplifting movie.

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What's the story?

In MIRACLE IN LANE 2, 13-year-old Justin Yoder (Frankie Muniz) struggles in the shadow of his athletic brother, Seth (Patrick Levis), and is determined to win himself a trophy. Without access to the same sports as Seth, due to his spina bifida, Justin sets about finding somewhere to excel, despite his wheelchair. When he discovers an old soapbox racer in his neighbor's shed, he joins forces with Vic (Roger Aaron Brown) and his father, Myron (Rick Rossovich), in an attempt to become a racing champion -- much to the annoyance of his disgruntled brother, who is used to being the golden boy. A crash, jealous competitors, and rules about foot breaks threaten to end his dream, but Justin has one last trick up his sleeve -- a family whose dedication is as strong as his, and they may just save the day.

Is it any good?

Muniz breathes energy, mischief, and great strength into a character that challenges the way disability is often shown on screen. Though there are many injustices, difficulties, and frustrations in his life, Justin is rarely portrayed as a victim and the determination of the real-life character, who was instrumental in making the All-American Soap Box Derby more inclusive in the 1990s, shines through.

Acting across the board is solid, and the film doesn't shy away from some of the difficulties Justin's family face due to his illness -- such as working extra jobs to pay medical bills, and parents being unable to give the time they would like to both children. Yet it maintains a positive tone and message that love and hard work will get you through. There are a number of imaginative interludes, including Justin speaking to "God" in the form of a famous race car driver, Bobby Wade (Tuc Watkins), and sessions of family court with his parents and brother dressed in old-fashioned costumes. All of which add extra fun to proceedings in what is an uplifting biographical drama with plenty of comedy to boot.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how disability is represented in Miracle in Lane 2. How does it compare to other representations on screen? Does it matter that the character of Justin is played by an able-bodied actor?

  • Justin shows great perseverance and courage in trying to accomplish his dreams. Can you think of a time when you've had to show these character strengths in order to achieve something?

  • Discuss the relationship between Justin and his brother Seth. Why do you think Seth acted the way he did toward Justin. Discuss your own relationships with your siblings.

  • How does this compare to other sports biographies? What are the similarities and differences?

  • What purpose do the family court and God interludes serve in the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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