×

The Longshots

Whatever marquee allure Ice Cube established in the family-entertainment market with "Are We There Yet?" and "Are We Done Yet?" will be sorely tested by "The Longshots," an inspirational sports drama that likely won't score until it reaches the homevid playoffs.

With:
Curtis Plummer - Ice Cube Jasmine Plummer - Keke Palmer Cyrus - Dash Mihok Claire Plummer - Tasha Smith Ronnie - Jill Marie Jones Coach Fisher - Matt Craven Damon - Miles Chandler Winston - Glenn Plummer

Whatever marquee allure Ice Cube established in the family-entertainment market with “Are We There Yet?” and “Are We Done Yet?” will be sorely tested by “The Longshots,” an inspirational sports drama that likely won’t score until it reaches the homevid playoffs. A surprisingly tepid directorial effort by Limp Bizkit nu-metal rocker Fred Durst, pic seldom deviates from the genre-cliche playbook while recounting the plucky efforts of a small-town 11-year-old (Keke Palmer, “Akeelah and the Bee”) who’s coached by her uncle (Cube) to become the first girl to compete in the Pop Warner national football championship.

Although “inspired by a true story,” “The Longshots” unwinds like the most formulaic of fiction while charting the progress of its two central characters.

Curtis Plummer (Cube), a former high school star whose promise faded when he blew out his knee, yearns to move somewhere, anywhere, to get away from bad memories and minimal prospects in his economically-strapped Illinois town. But he finds a shot at redemption in his own backyard — or, more specifically, the backyard of his hard-working sister (Tasha Smith) — when he notices Jasmine (Palmer), his young niece, has raw talent for passing the pigskin.

What happens next is so predictable, scriptwriter Nick Santora seems to have simply given helmer Durst (in a mainstream follow-up to his well-received indie debut, “The Education of Charlie Banks”) a checklist of plot points to dutifully tick off. Jasmine overcomes initial reluctance and/or hostility of coaches and fellow players? Yep. Chronically losing team starts winning again with Jasmine as quarterback? Done. Spiritually uplifted townspeople rally around their local team? Ditto. Ne’er-do-well absent father returns to bask in Jasmine’s glory? You got it.

Cube and Palmer show engaging sincerity and impeccable professionalism while going through familiar paces. And the climax provides a welcome touch of realism that recalls the original “Rocky.”

Even so, while “The Longshots” is by no means an unpleasant experience, it feels like a project carried out by people who began with the best of intentions but weren’t quite able to sustain their initial enthusiasm. When Curtis announces he’s been offered a coaching job in another city, this late development is introduced and disposed of so quickly, aud is left with the impression that everyone involved just wanted to wrap things up as quickly as possible.

Filmed on location mostly in Minden, La. (near Shreveport, where the climactic Pop Warner game was shot), pic relies heavily on ace lenser Conrad W. Hall to convey the drab, dreary atmosphere of a downtrodden small town in need of a spark of hope.

Popular on Variety

The Longshots

Production: An MGM release of a Dimension Films presentation of a Cube Vision and Blackjack Films production. Produced by Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Nick Santora. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Andy La Marca. Directed by Fred Durst. Screenplay, Nick Santora.

Crew: Camera (color), Conrad W. Hall; editor, Jeffrey Wolf; music, Teddy Castellucci; music supervisor, Spring Aspers; production designer, Charles Breen; costume designer, Mary McLeod; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Walter Anderson; assistant director, Scott Cameron; casting, Matthew Barry, Nancy Green-Keyes, Brinkley A. Maginnis, Tara Duncil. Reviewed at Edwards Marq*e Theater, Houston, Aug. 11, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: Curtis Plummer - Ice Cube Jasmine Plummer - Keke Palmer Cyrus - Dash Mihok Claire Plummer - Tasha Smith Ronnie - Jill Marie Jones Coach Fisher - Matt Craven Damon - Miles Chandler Winston - Glenn Plummer

More Film

  • Love is the Monster

    Neto Villalobos’ ‘Love is the Monster’ Heads to San Sebastian Co-Pro Forum (EXCLUSIVE)

    Costa Rican director Ernesto “Neto” Villalobos’ third feature, “Love is the Monster,” will participate in September’s San Sebastian Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. Having found festival success with his first two features, “All About the Feathers” and “Helmet Heads,” both drama-comedies, Villalobos will head in a different direction with “Love is the Monster,” a psychological thriller [...]

  • Pinewood Atlanta Studios

    Pinewood Group to Exit Atlanta Studios Joint Venture

    The Pinewood Group is pulling out of its Atlanta facility as it refocuses its international strategy. The group announced Wednesday that it has sold its equity in Pinewood Atlanta Studios to River’s Rock, its joint venture partner in the facility. The joint venture was set up in 2013 with Pinewood Atlanta Studios now the second [...]

  • El Principe

    Storyboard Swoops on Seven Titles for 2020 Chilean Distribution (EXCLUSIVE)

    Key Chilean independent production-distribution company Storyboard Media has announced a knock-your-socks-off slate of seven domestic features, in varying degrees of completion, to be released in Chile across 2020. Bound for Venice’s Critics’ Week, Sebastián Muñoz’s “The Prince” was a hit at last year’s works in progress section at the San Sebastian Film Festival and will [...]

  • Tigerlily

    Banijay Rights Signs First Look Deal with Tigerlily Prods.

    Seeking to expand its scripted offering, Banijay Rights has signed a first look development deal with Tigerlily Productions, a U.K. production company whose credits include David Farr’s “The Ones Below” and “Remainder” with Tom Sturridge. The deal covers scripted programming developed, created and produced by Tigerlily for the U.K. and international markets. Tigerlily Productions, which [...]

  • Blanco-en-Blanco

    Stray Dogs Picks Up Int’l Sales Rights to Venice-bound ‘Blanco en Blanco’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – In the run-up to the upcoming 76th Venice Int’l Film Festival, Paris-based Stray Dogs has closed international sales rights on Chilean drama “Blanco en Blanco,” which holds its world premiere in the festival’s Horizons sidebar. Filmed last year in the frigid tundra of Chile’s Tierra de Fuego and Spain’s tropical Canary Islands, [...]

  • Gerard Butler Angel Has Fallen

    Film Review: 'Angel Has Fallen'

    “Angel Has Fallen” marks the third time that Gerard Butler, as the Secret Service agent and scowling samurai cowboy Mike Banning, has had to rescue the President of the United States from an international conspiracy so cuckoo bananas that the movie barely expects you to believe it. (Actually, in the six years since this series [...]

  • Jessica

    Ninja Thyberg's Female POV Porn Industry Portrait Seduces Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Paris-based Versatile has announced a raft of pre-sales on Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature “Jessica,” set in the adult entertainment industry in L.A. World distributors that have pre-bought the Swedish drama take in Weltkino for Germany/Austria, Xenix for Switzerland, MK2/Mile End for Canada, KTH for South Korea and Movie Could for Taïwan. Several [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content