A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Twelve seems designed primarily to teach kids that hard work, even in the face of seeming failure, can be rewarding, using a talented young Little League phenom to illustrate the premise. Snubbed by a coach, 12-year-old Kyle is cut from the A team, a development that goads him to practice day and night so that he can make it with another team to the Little League World Series. A kid and his dad both censor themselves before allowing the words "s--t" or "balls" to come out of their mouths. The parents here are exemplary models of how to console when bad things happen to their kids, never dismissing real feelings of sadness or sugar-coating less-than-hoped-for outcomes. A Little League pitcher deliberately hits batters with the ball to intimidate them while the coach looks on approvingly. Kyle once accidentally hit a batter with the ball and nearly killed the boy. An angry dad calls a mean coach a "punk." While there's no overt religious content here, a couple of times it seems as if Kyle is looking heavenward to thank, well, someone for his many blessings.
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What's the story?
In TWELVE, Ted (Erik Heger) is the dad of tween Kyle (Wyatt Ralff), a talented baseball player. Ted played for college and practices with Kyle, encouraging him to work his hardest and do his best. A move to a new town requires Kyle to try out for Oakwood, the local team. Even though he's clearly one of the best on the field, he's cut from Oakwood's A team. The Oakwood coach (Jeremy Holm) has given his spot to a lesser player because he's done business with that kid's dad. Ted encourages Kyle to find a way to use his sadness and disappointment to fuel his resolve to make himself an even better player. Kyle practices day and night, enlisting his older brother Xavier (Liam Obergfoll), a talented high school senior and star pitcher, to practice with him. Kyle makes a different team and vows to get them to the Little League World Series. Naturally, the deciding matchup is against Oakwood, and vindication is sweet.
Is it any good?
This film is nicely done as it invites the audience to come along on Kyle's ride to baseball expertise. Young baseball fans and Little League lovers will be impressed by the effort Kyle makes as he improves all aspects of his well-rounded game. This is a family movie in the sense that Ted proves to be a supportive, encouraging, and decent father who gives his kids his very best, helping them improve their baseball skills but also their life skills, especially when it comes to picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after setbacks.
Twelve takes such pains to demonstrate what doing the right thing looks like that it seems odd when Ted cheats a little to make Kyle eligible for another team. They don't live in Brighton, so Ted rents a small apartment to allow Kyle to qualify. That feels like as much of a cheat as the Oakwood coach's giving a spot to a business associate's kid instead of to the deserving Kyle. If this were another, less cheery movie, that fact might come back to haunt and disqualify both the Brighton team and Kyle from playing. But the cheat is never mentioned again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to commit to a goal. Is there anything you want so badly that you would work hard to achieve it?
Kyle's dad suggests Kyle use a seemingly devastating setback to drive him forward into potential success in Twelve. Do you think that was helpful advice? Why or why not?
How hard is it to deal with rejection or setbacks? What are some good ways to cope with such challenges?
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