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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film on May 9th, 2007 in Indianapolis. I am one of the
judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A
Truly Moving Picture "
explores the human journey by artistically
expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland
gave that award to this film.
This is a story of a loving, close-knit family in the 1970s. The father is obsessed with his love of soccer and for his children, which include two grade school sons, his high school son and soccer star, and high school daughter, Gracie. All of his children share his passion for the game. A tragedy occurs and the high school daughter is determined to play with the high school boys' soccer team.
This is before title IX and the road to her joining the team is virtually impossible. Everyone is against her; that is, the male soccer-team players, the male soccer-team coaches, and her father. And everything is against her. Girls aren't allowed to use the weightlifting room at school and the Board of Education is worried about her safety.
First she gives up and behaves badly. Then her love for the game and competition takes over. The only questions that remain are whether she will be given a chance, and whether given a chance, she is tough enough and good enough.
Gracie eventually becomes a role model for young people and especially for girls. She displays courage and spirit and even heroism, and she never gives up hope in trying to reach her goals.
Gracie's parents are very compelling. Dermot Mulroney and Elizabeth Shue show being good parents is not about money. It is about being good role models and instilling positive values in their children.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
Gracie is a great, family film. Gracie is played beautifully by Carly Shroeder as a girl surround by three soccer-playing brothers, Johnny, Mike, and Dan. The film opens as her brother has her kick a soccer ball barefoot to hit an empty bottle on top of the car. This film is set in South Orange, New Jersey in 1978 and is inspired by the events of the Shue family. Elisabeth Shue plays the mom and school nurse at Columbia High School in South Orange which does exist and whose alumni includes the Shues and Zach Braff. South Orange is also an upscale suburb of New York City and Newark, New Jersey. At the time of the movie set in 1978, an average dual income working class couple with four children could live comfortably there. South Orange has become an upscale white collar community ever since 1978 to feature celebrity residents like Kelly Bishop and Andre Braugher. Also, South Orange is home to Seton Hall University. The film was filmed on location around New Jersey including Maplewood where we see Gracie running on a downtown street. It was a family affair in the filming process including Elisabeth Shue not only as an actress but as an executive producer along with her husband and director, Davis Guggenheim. Her brother Andrew Shue plays an assistant soccer coach and history teacher. In real life, Andrew played soccer too. Dermot Mulroney is terrific as the father, coach, and moving man in his profession. At first, the family has a star, Johnny Bowen, but tragedy strikes the family. We see Gracie rebelling against her parents who are already heartbroken with despair over their loss as well. The two younger brothers seem unaffected at least in the movie. Gracie has one best female friend who is afraid of being labeled a lesbian because of her association with Grace. She decides one night to take her brother's spot on the team much to her father's laugh. She is serious but rather than prepare and strive. She rebels, dates a boy, fails history, and plays hooky at Asbury Park with a college boy. Until her father decides that he will coach her to get on the team, there are difficulties since she is a girl but she is determined and the film is not entirely predictable. It is a family oriented. It's just in time for Father's Day! The film is somewhat believable and realistic at times. They do their best to maintain the authenticity of the time and playing Bruce Springsteen songs as well. I admire the Shues for their determination in making the film entirely on location in New Jersey keeping with their roots. Stay until the end of the credits, you will be interested to see what it has to say. I like this film overall and it's message is that a girl can do it too.
I watched this movie out of pure boredom, thinking it was some fluffy family friendly movie - but it was actually dark and engrossing. The cover art for this movie really gives the wrong impression - the sunshine on the box never appears in the actually movie, and although this movie is inspiring it manages to do it without the lollipops and flowers that one might expect. This film is more about a family as it copes with tragedy and life in the 70's than it is about soccer, which is a good thing! It has enough soccer content for those interested, but people who dislike sports movies have nothing to fear either. I will admit there are a few sappy moments in this film, but luckily Gracie is no goody two shoes, and thus a more complex character. EXTRA BONUS - the sound track is excellent featuring Blondie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Gracie' is a movie about a girl who gets on the varsity boys soccer
team after her brother, Johnny Bowen (Jesse Lee Soffer) who was the
team star, dies in a car accident. Based on an experience of the Shue
family, it has Elizabeth Shue playing Gracie's mother and another Shue,
Andrew, as Coach Clark. Gracie Bowen is played by Carly Schroeder, who
projects energy and guts, as the role requires. Dermot Mulroney is her
father, Bryan Bowen, a former soccer player and a bit of a star in his
time himself, but with childhood issues that give him some trouble as a
parent. He has coached the family boys as if soccer, for all of them,
has always been the only thing, while Gracie was protected but
overlooked. But the fact that she nails a shot, on a bet, with bare
feet in the opening sequence shows she's got the potential to be a star
herself. Her struggle to be accepted at a time when girls didn't play
soccer in America (this takes place in the late Seventies) is a way of
moving forward when a kind of opening appears; it's also a chance for
the family to redeem itself and progressing beyond its grief.
'Gracie's' final trajectory leads (somewhat implausibly) to a predictable final big game triumph; but what makes the body of the movie different and good is its focus on training--the training, moreover, of a female athlete, and her endless struggle to prove herself. The story is more about the discipline of sport, the long hard process of conditioning, than the drama of games and wins. Gracie first has to convince her father to coach her despite his not unnatural concern that she isn't tough enough to play against boys. Her mother tells her she must be content as a girl with being second best. She doesn't buy that. Carly Schroeder makes Gracie's passion and conviction appear strong but never forced. Despite the ending this is, for once, a sports film not so much about the dramatic play and the roar of the crowd as it is about practice, practice, practice. The training is as close up as we got in Robert Towne's excellent 1982 'Personal Best,' which starred Mariel Hemingway and was a landmark for its realistic cinematic treatment of a track and field competitor. Again, maybe inevitably, the lesbian issue comes up in 'Gracie' as it does more prominently in 'Personal Best.' This time it appears only as a false stereotype, but at one point even Gracie's very up-front best friend Jena (Julia Garro) has doubts, while her sometime boyfriend, Kyle Rhodes (Christopher Shand), who wanted her for a long time but seemed hard to trust, indeed becomes an enemy at tryout time.
The movie's lessons have to do with a family unsure of itself accepting layers of grief, but the fresh image is of a young girl who can be a tough and skillful athlete no matter what anybody thinks. Gracie may get some of its depth and particularity from the involvement of the Shue family. It's a family affair in more ways than one. Director Guggenheim is Elizabeth Shue's husband, and Carly Schroeder's brother plays Gracie's younger brother Mike. The summer's American family films are rarely as unpretentious but solid as this one.
Carly Schroeder has made, with this little film, perhaps the most
pure-hearted big screen debut I've ever seen. The only other movie I
can think of to rival this is "Whale Rider" and Keisha Castle-Hughes
performance. But I really think Carly has the edge here. It's as if
she's plucked a dream out of the ether and made it palpable. It's what
the great actresses do, and I'm betting this woman could easily outdo
every major name out there, given the chance. She's instantly likable
and she transmits emotions through her face, voice, and body like she
was born to convince you of her champion heart.
This is not an easy role. It's quite physical and most women have a deep dislike for exercise and even competition. After all, women are like dune buggies; men are like Mack trucks. But the truth is soccer can be played and won with finesse and heart, though it takes a special sort. Someone who can bring a deft touch to her play just when she should be exhausted and beaten. And there's no question in my mind none of the current crop of starlets would have struggled to do half the job that Carly does here. There are very few camera tricks that only imply physicality in the direction, instead it's all there for real, in a way that completely blew me away. These people believed in this film and it's paid off big time.
No, Hollywood is not quite as astute or clever as it thinks it is, so Carly's future can't be assured. But if there were ever a promising beginning, this is it. This is one beautifully acted and directed movie that I'm very sorry I didn't see when it first came out. I've no idea why it's not rated higher here. With all the ugliness we have to contend with, you'd think these armchair critics would be forced to let a breath of fresh air in. I'm guessing they're too far gone. I, on the other hand, think Carly has created, out of an impossibly pure and quite visible heart, one of the most memorable and believable female heroines I have ever seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
GRACIE (2007) *** Carly Schroeder, Dermot Mulroney, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Shand, Hunter Schroeder, Trevor Heins, Josh Barclay Caras, John Doman, Andrew Shue, Julia Garro, Jesse Lee Soffer. Formulaic yet well-produced sports-themed drama about a young girl (Schroeder in an exemplary role of courage) who wants to play on the high school boys' soccer team after a family tragedy prompts her to realize her own potential in a brood obsessed with the sport and the attempt for her to bond with her hard-headed, distant father (Mulroney in one of his best roles) in New Jersey circa 1978. Fun, yet earnestly determined script by Lisa Marie Petersen and Karen Janszen based on the Shue's real-life family occurrences around sister Elisabeth (who co-produced with brother Andrew who co-stars) and her own attempt to do as well in her youth. Directed with assurance by Shue's real-life husband Davis Guggenheim, the film's strengths lie in the fine assembly of acting talent, an excellent collection of '70s songs and the accurate production design by Dina Goldman.
As the father of a daughter, I am always looking for the kind of film that matter-of-factly informs girls that, through desire and plain hard work, you can achieve your goals. That is a common, obvious message, but ask yourself how many movies are delivering that message to girls without also referring, whether overtly or by implication, to appearance and sexuality. The universe of those films is tiny. Well, finally, here is one!! Unfortunately, this movie was marketed poorly and did not do well at the box office. That does not mean, however, that it should die on the vine as a DVD. If you think a simple positive message of grit and determination for girls is worthy of wide distribution, then its going to take word of mouth to do it, because clearly the studios don't care. Spread the word about Gracie!!
Judging by the trailers you know this movie is going to be a tearjerker. It did not let down. They did not though dwell on certain subjects forever meaning the story progressed and in doing so kept you locked and wanting to see the rest of it. I was really impressed and shocked to find out the family aspect behind the creating of this movie. The story was just brilliant and I've watched Carly Schroeder grow up on T.V. in Lizzie McGuire. Mean Creek is a movie that showed she can do dramatic and can do something different then Teen Television and this movie sealed the deal. Dermot Mulroney as the father was by far one of the best castings in this film. You saw his give and take and his struggle to either help or be against the obstacles in front of him. Elizabeth Shu can do no wrong. This was a the perfect role and she did not over play it. She really did have the believability of a concerned mother in the 70's. Weighing everything around her. The siblings especially Johnny were casted great as well as Kyle and Peter. They gave such a believability to their roles that you loved and hated them at the right times and you really struggle for Gracie in the since where putting yourself in her shoes and saying well I would have done this but your not Gracie and you have to stick with her and watch her triumph. I recommend this to Anyone and Everyone especially families or just mom's and daughters to watch and enjoy!~!
I try to pick out movies that will entertain everyone in our family. Enough of a story to keep me from falling asleep, enough emotional involvement for my wife and an easy to follow plot for my children, with nothing too controversial or adult themed. This film was an absolute winner. It had us all cheering and crying and smiling at the various points in the film. The acting and filming were great and the story was beautifully told. Yes there are clichés and stereotypes, but that just makes it easy to follow for the children. Also, although the film has a football/soccer theme it doesn't require any special interest in this sport to enjoy (I'm no fan). Overall an excellent family movie and a real surprise. I'll be recommending this to my friends.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watching this movie, I began to go through my own experience in soccer.
I remember playing on the basketball court with my friends. I also
remembered in Primary 5, I was in the soccer team, and Vishnu, our
striker, my friend and I (left midfielder) did a triangular pass and
then Vishnu drove the ball into the goal. I felt great. However, I did
not really continue to pursue soccer because of one sided talent only.
I believe that if there is such thing as true passion, anything is possible. With your heart devoted into that thing, you can most possibly succeed.
Brian Bowen (Dermot Mulroney) was a soccer player himself, he does not put effort in thinking that anyone else can play like he did, except for Mike (Hunter Schroeder). Not only did her father did not believe in his only daughter, he laughed along with the two other younger boys in the family Daniel Bowen (Trevor Heins) and (), he believed that soccer was never needing real teaching because of Mike's talent in soccer. Grace Bowen (Carly Schroeder) had to put up with all the boys, the coaches, the rules and the closest person, her father.
I believe that girls are actually very fit to play any sport. They do not ever feel satisfied with their physical being, therefore they will train harder and harder if they really want to achieve their goal. The determination to push is far greater than the relaxed mind of boys who were born to play a rough sport, who were already capable of playing these kinds of pushing limits in strength, speed and agility.
Carly Schroeder played an amazing role as 'Gracie', she loved her brother and they were truly heart-to-heart. Her brother also believed that she could do what he could do. Every time a girl will be laughed by her peers and boys for taking on "socially suicidal" activities. I also loved how Carly played Gracie's different roles bravely. She walked across the tunnel without bothering of the oncoming vehicles, she drove illegally, tested her physical limits, both flirting-naughty and fitness. Peter Wicker (Josh Barclay Caras) believed in her throughout the film, there was no doubt in his mind that Grace was incapable of beating the boys to the game.
Lindsay Bowen (Elizabeth Shue) played a tremendous role as Grace's mother. She was the school nurse at the school. Moreover, she was also the nurse in the family. As a mother, she watched over her daughter and never discouraged her of what she would like to pursue in her life. She taught her daughter to always aim high. I believe that she played this amazing role beautifully because she was back at her own grounds when she was younger. She knew how a girl like 'Gracie' would feel, so she did not stop 'Gracie' from doing the abnormality. Elizabeth Shue and Andrew Shue directed this film very well.
Kyle Rhodes (Christopher Shand) did not believe that girls can even kick a ball. He has 'expectations' of the girls he dates, but until he realizes Gracie is very different, he will never reach deep enough to understand her.
I went to watch it the first show in the morning today and loved it. I recommend this movie to those who believes in true passion is the key to success, no matter how the road bends, there is always a way to walk around it.
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