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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rocket is the uplifting story of a teen football player who suffers what seems to be a career-ending injury. Overwhelmed by disappointment, the young hero discovers that he can transcend the effects of his accident and make the most of the talent he has. The film was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at Central High School, where it happened. The movie contains solid messages about what it takes to reach our goals and the necessity of adapting to unexpected circumstances. The film has some brief references to faith, and deals with family issues as well. Other than a few curse words ("butt," "damn," "s--t'), the movie is a heart-warming tribute to a thoughtful young person's growing maturity.
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What's the story?
Josh Davis (Brady Tutton) has been training to play football his whole life in THE ROCKET. He has worked hard, focused, and given his all, especially because he adores his dad and wants to make him proud. As he begins his freshman year at Central High, where his dad is coach, Josh is determined to shine. Sadly, a fall from a moving trailer ends those aspirations. Fortunate to survive a severe head injury, the prognosis is good, except for the fact that Josh can never play contact sports again. It's a devastating blow for Josh, and for his father, Robert (Carl Ciske), who has more invested in his son's success than he should have. Fate intervenes when Keith Olson (Richard Blake), Central High's cross-country coach, needs a seventh man so his team can qualify for competition. Partly because he sees a solution to his own problem and partly because he sees a young man in trouble, Coach Olson proposes that Josh try long-distance running. Reluctantly at first, and facing ridicule from other students because cross-country isn't as "cool" as football, Josh takes the skills and work habits he's developed to give running a try.
Is it any good?
The heartfelt performances of Brady Tutton and Richard Blake, along with enough suspense to elicit strong interest despite a foreseeable outcome, make this low-budget film worth watching. It's a traditional sports story -- a likable character on his way to glory is faced with an insurmountable obstacle in his path and must find the heart to exceed expectations. And it works. The only unfortunate element is what feels like a forced, made-up conflict between father and son. A dad like Robert Davis, cold and petulant, self-righteous and self-involved, isn't easily redeemable. Certainly not in the by-the-numbers way the movie portrays that redemption. It's a wrinkle in an otherwise smooth effort. The combined talents of filmmakers and the people of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where The Rocket is set and filmed, give the movie a homemade quality, in the nicest sense of the word. Kids will enjoy this story and hopefully gain some insights into the concept of "putting in the time."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the power and satisfying nature of stories like The Rocket, about overcoming great obstacles and handicaps. Why do they appeal to audiences? Do you think it's always necessary for the struggling character to win the big prize, or are you satisfied with that character simply doing his or her best? Why?
What is the meaning of the word "underdog" in a story? Besides the world of sports, in what other areas of life can someone be an "underdog"?
Do movies like this one motivate you to go beyond your expectations? Think of an instance in which a movie has changed your behavior or given you insights about yourself.
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2018
- Cast: Brady Tutton, Richard Blake, Dawn Holt Lauber
- Director: Richard Blake
- Studio: Amberock Productions
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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