There has to be a checklist somewhere for anyone making a sports movie.
It doesn't matter whether the sport's boxing, baseball or, in the case of the new movie "Crooked Arrows," lacrosse, you can count on somebody being an underdog.
There's always a plot line about someone who must overcome a personal tragedy to become the hero. It never hurts to have a sweet love story. Wrap it all up with a final showdown where it doesn't matter who wins because the real lesson is about finding the champion inside.
Toss in the film being based on a true story and you've marked off all the items on the checklist.
"Crooked Arrows," which wants to do for lacrosse what "Invictus" did for rugby, is based on the true story of a struggling team of Native American high school students. Their losing has brought great shame on the community, as the tribe considers lacrosse to be a gift from the Great Creator.
Enter Joe Logan (Brandon Routh), a former high school lacrosse star who has become the manager of a casino. When a developer presents a plan to expand the gambling establishment, Logan must prove to his tribe that he's worthy of their trust to make the deal. He can do this by turning the lacrosse team into winners.
This all leads to a big game with the privileged prep school that has dominated the high school lacrosse world for decades. Guess where this is going.
Screenwriters Brad Riddell and Todd Baird do a paint-by-numbers telling of the story. That writing gets no better as director Steve Rash tries to get believable performances out of a group of mostly amateur actors. Because he cast real lacrosse players, they look good on the field but need a lot of coaching when it comes to delivering dialogue.
These flaws would kill any other movie, but sports films get a pass. There's something moving about misfits rising to the occasion, even if everyone knows how far they are going to rise. And there's something comforting about these kinds of movies, especially in a time when so may people have been knocked down and need inspiration to get back up.
"Crooked Arrows" can embrace its corniness because it has so much heart.
"Crooked Arrows," rated PG-13 for language, partial nudity. Stars Brandon Routh, Gil Birmingham, Chelsea Ricketts, Michael Hudson. Directed by Steve Rash. Running time: 100 minutes. Grade: B- Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com
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