A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film, although mostly fine for younger kids, does have a few mature themes. The main character's unemployed uncle drinks a lot (out of a paper bag) and is basically a couple of notches up from being homeless. A deadbeat dad makes a brief appearance in which he once again disappoints his daughter. And a well-liked character suffers a heart attack on the football field. The language in the film is standard for a PG film ("ass" is about as strong as it gets), and there's no sexual or violent content of note.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Middle-schooler Jasmine Plummer (Keke Palmer) is far from popular in her small, working-class town. She's frequently ridiculed by the school's mean girls, and she doesn't have any extracurricular interests besides reading. When she needs an afternoon sitter while her mom puts in extra hours at the local diner, Jasmine's unemployed Uncle Curtis (Ice Cube) is the only man for the job. Bored, the duo starts hanging out by a football field, where Curtis discovers that his niece has a great throw. After weeks of teaching a reluctant Jasmine football basics, Curtis convinces the Pop Warner coach (Matt Craven) to let her try out for quarterback. She's a natural, of course. The rest of the movie (which was based on a true story) focuses on how Jasmine unexpectedly leads the team to victory.
Is it any good?
The film has shortcomings, but director Fred Durst has studied the feel-good formula enough to make audiences root for the home team, even if the result isn't a true touchdown.
Nearly every inspiring "first" in sports has already been turned into a movie. But even though there's no originality left in the genre, Palmer and Ice Cube are charming enough to lift LONGSHOTS slightly above the after-school special benchmark. Palmer, who nailed her breakthrough performance in Akeelah and the Bee, is older but still enchanting as the first female quarterback in Pop Warner history. She's a lovely young actress and deserves meatier roles than this fluffy football tale offers. Cube isn't as believable as a down-and-out borderline alcoholic, but once the football lessons start, he's much more at ease.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Jasmine a good role model. What other positive (or negative) role models did you notice in the movie? Kids: What do you think about girls playing football? Should they be allowed to play on boys' teams if there aren't enough girls to form a separate league? Families can also discuss whether sports movies are too predictable and tear-jerking -- or whether that's just what you want in this kind of film.
- In theaters: August 20, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2008
- Cast: Dash Mihok, Ice Cube, Keke Palmer
- Director: Fred Durst
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements, mild language and brief rude humor.
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