The Big Green
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Underdog soccer team tale sticks to feel-good formula.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Team camaraderie, friendship, and support of one another's skills are all themes running through this feel-good movie.
Positive Role Models
Miss Montgomery breathes some life into the town of Elma because she believes in the potential of the kids in her class. Deputy Dog cares about the people in his community and he even agrees to sponsor a family who have illegal immigration status.
Violence & Scariness
Some pushing and shoving among classmates. Kate has a pocket knife at school that she uses to carve graffiti on her desk.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The Knight's coach wagers Miss Montgomery a kiss if he wins the game. She responds that he must kiss the mascot goat if her team wins.
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"Damned," "hell," spoken by parents. "Kick butt" by kids.
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Products & Purchases
Embedded product placement: "I wish we had a Pizza Hut in our town." and "We stopped at Pizza Hut." A bag of Cheetos makes a memorable appearance in the first scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Kate's dad is a very heavy drinker, who is seen passed out drunk at a bar. Parents drink beer and smoke cigarettes in the local bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this feel-good sports movie has a sideline reference to alcoholism (Kate's father, a heavy drinker, is seen passed out at a bar), and some rebellious behavior by bored kids, but everyone overcomes their obstacles by the end of the movie.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
Elma, Texas is a pretty boring place to live -- just ask the kids who wander through the overgrown fields and snooze through class. The football legends of the past are now unemployed parents; in other words, the town is washed up. But Miss Montgomery (Olivia d'Abo), the new exchange teacher from England, sees it differently. She Introduces the kids to the game of football "that the world knows," where the ball is round and skill trumps brawn. The kids reluctantly begin to learn the game and before they even have a team name, they are off to the big city to play a game. In an against-all-odds scenario, both boys and girls practice and play together and, yes, start to win games, largely thanks to the new kid in town, Juan, and his mad soccer skills. The only problem is that Juan's mother won't let him play because she is afraid that their family secret will be discovered. Sheriff Palmer (Steve Guttenberg) helps solve their problem in the nick of time.
Is It Any Good?
Given the fact that so many people like to see the underdog come out in front, this sports movie satisfies, even if it is pretty predictable. What lends texture to the formula is the underlying struggle that the families of these kids are going through. One character comes from a broken home where her father drinks beer all day long. One kid is proud to claim that his dad has a job, whereas most parents are scraping by because the local "plant" has closed. Finally, there is a new kid in the class whose mother is afraid to put down roots, lest she get deported. Performances by the plucky Olivia d'Abo and the goofy Steve Guttenberg move the plot along.
Kids who are just getting into soccer will enjoy watching the team pull it together, though older kids might be a little bored by what is now old hat in the sports movie realm. Pretty clean fun for the family, nonetheless.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about life in a small town before the advent of the Internet. How did kids pass the time in this movie? How would the movie be different if the kids in this movie had handheld devices, for example?
Kids talk longingly about going to Pizza Hut in this movie. Did you notice the advertising messages?
Why does Juan's mother keep him from playing soccer? What does it mean to be an illegal immigrant in this country? How does Juan's mother cope with her immigrant status? What does Deputy Dog do to help her?
- In theaters: May 4, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2004
- Cast: Jay O. Sanders, Olivia d'Abo, Steve Guttenberg
- Director: Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: .
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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