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The Longshots
Genre Sport
Year: 2008

The Longshots is directed by Fred Durst (The Education of Charlie Banks), actor, director and Limp Bizkit’s frontman. It almost seems like a joke, but it isn’t! Durst is more than competent behind the camera and makes a compelling case with The Longshots and his directorial debut, The Education of Charlie Banks. While it’s an interesting casting decision, it doesn’t bode well for fans or enemies of Limp Bizkit. Given Durst’s public persona, a family drama and sports comedy about a young black girl’s debut in Pop-Warner’s football league, doesn’t seem to add up. Nevertheless, Durst creates a compelling, albeit formulaic sports movie based on the true story of Jasmine Plummer. He’s aided by a “B.A.-in-the-making” performance from Ice Cube and another solid turn by Keke Palmer from Akeelah and The Bee. The Longshots appears to have an even narrower audience demographic than Gracie (2007), but is actually surprisingly entertaining - even for non-football fans.

The Longshots starts off a little bumpy as the production finds his feet, the characters are introduced to the audience, and then to one another. However, the story kicks into overdrive after 20 minutes and generates enough heart and light-hearted humour to keep the story enjoyable. It’s fairly predictable as far as underdog stories go, but the character’s transitions, the lead performances and the girl football player perspective add some vigour. Ice Cube has been reportedly offered the role of B.A. Barackis in the A-Team remake scheduled for 2010. His performance smacks of Mr. T, with a touch of warmth. Keke Palmer’s reserved, yet quietly confident part shows that she’s starting to fill her shoes. The two have good chemistry in a bittersweet father-daughter kind of relationship.

The Longshots will receive plenty of negative reviews for its formulaic approach to a tiring genre. However, audiences will still be able to appreciate the heart, chemistry and true story behind this little sports movie. As mentioned, it’s not just for football fans - but makes a treat for the whole family. In fact, it’s so wholesome, it wouldn’t have surprised me if The Longshots had initially been pinned as an unofficial Disney project. Just imagine Akeelah and the Bee and First Sunday meet The Invincible and you’ve got The Longshots. This underdog story is a sweet, heartwarming and inspiring family film for everyone.

The bottom line: Enjoyable.

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