I settled in early on for "Gracie," and speculated the theatre didn't expect much, having tucked it into their smallest theatre. (Going against Shrek 3, Spider-Man 3, and Pirates 3, I guess their thinking checks out, though.) Taking #7 in this week's box office with a paltry $1.3 million, they're seemingly planned well.
As the place filled up, predominately with a gaggle of 7-year-old soccer players, moms and siblings. If the recognition of their uniforms didn't set the stage of the movie's target audience, the collective "ewwwwww!"s at the first on-screen kiss did it.
(As an aside, the aforementioned kiss was during one of the oh-so-prevalent previews for Focus Films' "Evening," which I eagerly anticipate, if for no other reason than to no longer have to see the previews before every bloody movie I've been to see in the last two months. Literally.)
Gracie is the only girl of five kids in a soccer-centric family, led by Brian (Dermot Mulroney). After missing a goal kick and losing the big game to Kingston, family soccer star Johnny is killed in a car accident during the rainstorm they played right on through.
Gracie wants to play in next year's game against Kingston and beat them, the girls don't have a soccer team, and the boys' soccer coach just laughs at her... as does her father. She drifts down the path of bad girl-ness, is dangerously close to going too far with a college guy, when dad pulls her from the car and reels her in. He offers her to coach her, but his ensuing actions don't necessarily demonstrate he really believes she can do it.
And on and on. As a storyline, I'd say it's noteworthy as stories go: Gracie fighting for equal access to sports, under Title IX [of the Education Code reforms of 1972], and getting the right to try-out for, and if good enough, play on the boys' team. Triumph over adversity and all that.
On a cinematic level, it's ho-hum. The acting is okay, but not great. The delivery of the storyline is good, but not Oscar material. It's like a less funny "She's the Man" or a lesser scale "We Are Marshall." There's the usual few tears, but the tough girl can't cry too much, right?
The underdog message is a bit lost in tired dialogue and the well-worn challenges of "my dad doesn't believe in me 'cuz his dad never believed in him" stuff. If you insert commercials, you'll likely and suddenly feel as though you've been transported back to the 90s and an ABC 'After School Special.'
If the 7-year-olds squirming with all that mushy kissing stuff going on was any indication, the target medium may have better been television.