Switching Goals

The Olsen twins' super-cute franchise is running a bit thin these days, and this formulaic fluff doesn't help matters much. Writers David Kukoff and Matt Roshkow rely on the old switcheroo routine for the crux of the pic, but that's the least of the tired script devices used in this saccharine, whitebread suburban fairy tale that lowers the bar for kid movies just as Disney's "Annie" raised it.

With:
Sam - Mary-Kate Olsen Emma - Ashley Olsen Jerry Stanton - Eric Lutes Denise - Kathryn Greenwood Greg Jeffries - Trevor Blumas Dave - Joe Grifasi Mitch - Ted Atherton Sal - Vito Rezza Richie - Jake Ledoux

The Olsen twins’ super-cute franchise is running a bit thin these days, and this formulaic fluff doesn’t help matters much. Writers David Kukoff and Matt Roshkow rely on the old switcheroo routine for the crux of the pic, but that’s the least of the tired script devices used in this saccharine, whitebread suburban fairy tale that lowers the bar for kid movies just as Disney’s “Annie” raised it.

To take cheap shots at the Olsen twins is tempting, but unfair. They are hired to play identical sisters and look cute, and to that extent, they perform their tasks well. But for the Olsens’ first foray into “The Wonderful World of Disney,” the writers should have come up with a fresher storyline.

At one point, one of the twins asks, “Aren’t we getting a little too old for this?” Everyone is.

An unrecognizably overstuffed and overbuffed Eric Lutes stars as Jerry Stanton, a goof of a dad who likes to “win big and win ugly.”

His soccer dynasty is jeopardized when the teen league goes co-ed and his psychologist wife Denise (Kathryn Greenwood) implores him to pick their sports-impaired daughter Emma (Ashley) first in the draft.

Emma, interested in fashion and boys instead of sports, longs for the attention her father bestows on her twin sister Sam (Mary-Kate), who has a room full of sports trophies but is tired of carrying the burden of winning on her shoulders.

When Emma is drafted to play for her dad’s winning team and Sam gets picked up by the worst in the league, the two switch identities to keep everyone happy.

The identical twins switching places plot is tired, and the squabbles over the newly formed co-ed soccer league, which re-ignites the men vs. women debate, make reruns of “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family” look downright topical.

Though pic frequently stoops to lecture, there’s no worthy message in “Switching Goals.”

Still, director David Steinberg manages to have occasional fun with the film, particularly with a team full of misfits and geeks chanting, a la the classic horror film “Freaks,” “One of us. One of us.”

As Jerry, Lutes is all too convincing as the inept, priority-impaired dad. Greenwood, doing her best Bonnie Hunt imitation, has more fun with her role as Denise, but doesn’t offer any more realism than Lutes.

Soccer star Alexi Lalas appears in a brief cameo, though the film manages to gloss over any realistic depiction of soccer, especially coaching and practicing of the game.

Music by Patrick Williams is perky, and lensing by David A. Makin is bright and colorful. Tech credits meet all of the usual standards.

Switching Goals

ABC; Sun. Dec. 12, 7 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Dualstar Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen, Rich Heller; producer, Susan Murdoch; director, David Steinberg; writers David Kukoff, Matt Roshkow.

Crew: Camera, David A. Makin; editor, Bud Friedgen; sound, Tom Hidderly; music, Patrick Williams; casting, Barbara Miller, Irene Mariano, Tina Gerussi. 120 MIN.

Cast: Sam - Mary-Kate Olsen Emma - Ashley Olsen Jerry Stanton - Eric Lutes Denise - Kathryn Greenwood Greg Jeffries - Trevor Blumas Dave - Joe Grifasi Mitch - Ted Atherton Sal - Vito Rezza Richie - Jake Ledoux

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