×

Backwards

Someday, someone will make a movie in which the protagonist seizes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and doesn't blow it off to coach and/or root for younger people at an inconveniently timed competitive event. "Backwards" is not that movie.

With:
With: Sarah Megan Thomas, James Van Der Beek, Margaret Colin, Glenn Morshower, Alexandra Metz, Meredith Apfelbaum.

Someday, someone will make a movie in which the protagonist seizes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and doesn’t blow it off to coach and/or root for younger people at an inconveniently timed competitive event. “Backwards” is not that movie. Passably pleasant but thoroughly predictable, the pic is a self-constructed star vehicle for scripter, producer and lead player Sarah Megan Thomas. She portrays a former Olympic hopeful who gets a job as rowing coach at her alma mater, and must decide between accompanying two students to an overseas match or grabbing one last chance to go for the gold herself. Homescreen platforms beckon.

Under Ben Hickernell’s workmanlike direction, Thomas persuasively plays Abigail Brooks, who has devoted her life to training for Olympic rowing, but quits the U.S. team after her coach (Glenn Morshower) once again names her an alternate instead of placing her “in the boat.” Back home in Philly, and on the verge of 30, Abigail heeds advice from her workaholic mom (Margaret Colin) to get on with her life, and returns to Union Academy, her former high school, to work as rowing coach.

After a slightly rocky start, she reignites a romance with an old flame (James Van Der Beek), now the school’s athletic director, and brings out the best in two promising competitors (Alexandra Metz, Meredith Apfelbaum) whose oaring ability may take them all the way to a prestigious race in England. But just before they depart for the U.K., Abigail gets a call from her former coach.

Metz and Apfelbaum make agreeable impressions, even though their characters are ciphers. (There’s a fleeting attempt in a single scene to suggest one of the characters’ parents may be on the verge of divorce — or are, at the very least, prone to yelling at each other a lot — but nothing comes of this.) Van Der Beek and Colin fare slightly better, with less screen time, in marginally better-defined roles.

Tech credits are OK, but the rowing scenes are, surprisingly, mostly unremarkable.

Popular on Variety

Backwards

Production: A Dada Films/Required Viewing release of a 13th Night Prods. production. Produced by Sarah Megan Thomas. Executive producer, Sarah Megan Thomas. Co-producers, Tony Schneider, David Hoffman, Katie McNabb, Brian David Cange. Directed by Ben Hickernell. Screenplay, Sarah Megan Thomas.

Crew: Camera (color), Harlan Bosmajian; editor, Phillip J. Bartell; music, David Torn; production designer, Alex Brook Lynn; art director, Alanna Dempewolff-Barret; set decorator, Mike Locke; costume designer, Sarah Beers; sound, John Paul Golaski; associate producers, Frank Thomas, James Van Der Beek, Alysia Reiner; assistant director, Michael Delpolito; casting, Stephanie Holbrook. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Sept. 17, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Sarah Megan Thomas, James Van Der Beek, Margaret Colin, Glenn Morshower, Alexandra Metz, Meredith Apfelbaum.

More Film

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    'Angel Has Fallen' to Dominate Modest Box Office With $20 Million Weekend

    Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are leading the way at the North American box office with “Angel Has Fallen” on its way to about $20 million, early estimates showed Friday. Should forecasts hold, “Angel Has Fallen” will take in about double the next title, Universal’s second weekend of raunchy comedy “Good Boys” with about $10 [...]

  • Aracne

    Sanfic Standout ‘Aracne’ Filmmakers Discuss the State of Chilean Genre

    A key project at this year’s Santiago Lab, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival industry forum for promising Latin American projects, Florencia Dupont’s “Aracne” is representative of a push from the next generation of Chilean filmmakers into genre cinema and the themes it can explore. “Aracne” turns on Beatriz, a young journalist at a small Santiago [...]

  • Eduardo Machuca

    Chile’s Eduardo Machuca Unveils Machuca Films Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Eduardo Machuca, the former film co-ordinator of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has launched his own production company, Machuca Films. “After 25 years at the ministry, I felt I needed to tap my creative side,” said Machuca, who is also tying the knot on Saturday (Aug. 24) with a former Sanfic staffer, [...]

  • Robert Downey Jr. Disney Legends Ceremony,

    Robert Downey Jr. Reveals He Was Busted for Smoking Pot at Disneyland

    Robert Downey Jr. celebrated his Disney Legend status by sharing the endearing tale of how the first time he visited Disneyland, he was arrested. The Iron Man actor was being honored in Anaheim at Disney’s biennial D23 convention. After a brief introduction by Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger, Downey felt he had to come [...]

  • Thandie Newton Reminiscence

    Thandie Newton Reteams With 'Westworld's' Lisa Joy on 'Reminiscence' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following her Emmy win for her performance on “Westworld,” Thandie Newton is joining the feature directorial debut of the show’s co-creator. Sources tell Variety that Newton is set to join Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson in Warner Bros.’ “Reminiscence,” directed by “Westworld’s” Lisa Joy. WB acquired the rights to the package after this year’s Berlin [...]

  • Ming-Na Wen poses at the Disney

    Original 'Mulan' Star Ming-Na Wen Weighs in on Remake's Controversy

    Ming-Na Wen, who played the leading voice role in the original 1998 version of “Mulan,” has spoken out about the recent controversy surrounding Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake, which has been co-opted by China’s authoritarian regime to attack Hong Kong protestors. “We are living in a world right now where there’s so much change and confusion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content