I chose this movie for three reasons: 1) It's the World Cup time of the decade and I'm feeling the soccer vibe. 2) I've already seen it and remembered being disappointed/hating it. 3) I'm sick and my brain could barely pay attention, hence choosing a movie I've seen before and didn't really like.
See, Gracie is the only sister of three brothers. Her dad is soccer obsessed and has made a net out of tarp and chicken wire in the back yard. Her older brother, Johnny, is a soccer star and the apple of their father's eye. Their dad is pretty much Johnny's personal trainer too.
One night, Johnny's team is playing their rivals. Johnny is determined to beat them. He scores a goal. He is so awesome and everyone knows he's awesome. Plus he's really nice and a great role model.
The game comes down to a shoot out. Johnny is the last to go for it. If he makes it, his team has a chance. If he misses, they lose the game.
The ball bounces off the goal post and his team loses the game. Johnny is really upset.
Later, Gracie and Johnny have a moment and Gracie comforts him and assures him that the loss isn't solely his fault. "You win as a team and you lose as a team," she says, quoting their dad.
Then Gracie watches as Johnny rides away in the rain, the passenger in a doomed car.
Johnny dies in a car accident that night and Gracie's whole family is turned upside down.
Andrew Shue plays one of Gracie's teachers. He's concerned because she's not paying attention in school. He also plays one of the assistant soccer coaches and no, he does not take his shirt off. Ever.
Gracie wants to join the boys varsity soccer team in her brother's place. But her dad won't coach her, so, lost and without motivation, she gives in to teenage temptations.
Like vandalism and dressing slutty.
She then starts training herself to try out for the boy's team. And so, a training montage:
Elisabeth Shue as the mom is great. She's all. "What? You want to what? Let's go to the mall and buy blouses! instead!"
So Gracie's been dating this douche on the soccer team. His name is Curt and right there you know she should've known better. Curt is all long hair and headbands and he's also super misogynistic and tells Gracie that no way can a girl play on a boy's varsity team.
Then he humiliates Gracie in front of everyone she knows by telling them she wouldn't put out. Turns out he was dating her to win a bet regarding her chastity. ASSHOLE.
Gracie flips her shit and steals her mom's car and goes joyriding with her best friend.
Gracie also picks up a random dude and starts getting hot and heavy in the back of the car when:
Her dad shows up with the po-lice. And he is angry.
Gracie's dad, as played by Durmot Mulroney (I always want to call him Dylan McDermott), realizes that he's losing Gracie. He quits his job and decides to train her full time for soccer try-outs. When her mom is all "Why did you quit your job?!" Her dad says, "I refuse to lose another child!" And I have to say, it's pretty moving.
There's another montage where you see Gracie develop as a pretty kick ass soccer player, thanks to her dad's training.
But the school board denies her the chance to try out for the boys team. Gracie files an appeal and gets a chance to try out.
See, this is in 1978, before Title IX had fully taken effect everywhere.
Everyone at the School Board meeting (deciding whether or not she could try out) was all, "She can play field hockey!"
This is Douch McScumbag, aka Curt.
So, yes, Gracie gets to try out. This is her competition.
At one point in try-outs, the coach hands out four jerseys and says he wants to see who can score. "Two of you are leaving" he says. Yipes!
But Gracie scores a goal. Duh.Otherwise this movie would be really anti-climactic.
Then, she finds out that she only made Junior Varsity. After Curt the everlasting asswipe headbutted her and pretty much broke her nose. On purpose.
But one night, the head coach sees Gracie practicing and, realizing he was being a sexist twit, invites her to sit on the bench for their first game of the season, which just happens to be against their big rivals. The whole team is going to be wearing black arm bands in honor of Gracie's brother and the coach wants her there too.
Before the game, Gracie has a moment with her bird, who has lived his entire life in a cage too small for him. She tells him to fly, saying "you'll be ok." Hey, Gracie, guess what. I don't think the bird will be ok. I think the bird has lived it's entire life being fed table scraps and living in a tiny cage. I think the bird will fly into a window.
Gracie is sitting on the bench during the game, minding her own business, thinking about her brother when the coach says, "Gracie, you're in." And Gracie is all "Wha?!"
He's called Gracie in to take a free kick and she kicks it good, but it hits the post.
She's super upset, but then the coach yells at her that she needs to keep playing, because, hello, the game is still going on!
Gracie is all, kick the ball, kick the ball, run!
And then one of the other players pushes and kicks her, really hard, when she's down. The ref doesn't call a penalty and Gracie is really upset, but she realizes that she needs to play. That she wants to play and no amount of bullying from her team or the other team will stop her!
So she shows the boys what's what.
And she scores the winning goal!!!
And now her team likes her because she's a winner (this movie has so many parallels to The Mighty Ducks, I think I might vom.)
And her dad hugs her because now he's paying attention to her. Now that she's a soccer star.
I know this movie is commenting on the challenge of girls gaining the opportunity to play sports and become equal to the boys in that regard and I'm totally for that. I mean, at my high school the girls were waaaay better at sports than the boys. Seriously. People had excused absences when the girls were in the state championship game. Boys never made it that far.
This movie stinks. And it hurts to say that because I know it was made as a sort of homage to the eldest brother of the Shue siblings. But still. It's schlocky and has that horrid message that some of these movies have which is: the way only for your family and friends to love you is by you becoming a winner. The whole way through the movie, Gracie has two friends who stick by her no matter what, but she's constantly seeking the approval of her dad, which makes sense, sort of. Whatever. This movie is a throw-away. There's no there there.