Yet another inspirational sports flick, director Fred Durst’s (of the Limp Bizkit kind) “The Longshots” is like “Akeelah and the Bee” but with football. Acting under the pretense that it’s a female empowerment film, Durst never finds finds an identity as a director and instead aims for imitating the Disney sentiment at every turn. And how fortunate star Keke Palmer happens to be, tutored by yet another crusty old man who wants to help her succeed in her hidden talent.
“The Longshots” really is what it is, a clichéd and painfully formulaic little film reliant on the fading appeal of Cube along with the subtle innocence of Palmer who, in spite of her co-star, really does continue that charm we saw in “Akeelah and the Bee.” It’s just a shame she’s often brought down by a Cube who can’t break out of his persona. Perhaps with a better actor “The Longshots” could have been more bearable even if it would have still been formula crap, because the character of Curtis is one of great importance, sadly wasted. As it stands, he is at his worst here. mumbling and grimacing through his scenes, barely able to keep up with Palmer.
“The Longshots” stomps on the same beats from a hundred other sports films before it with the gratuitous scene of Jasmine (Palmer) exposing her hidden ability by happenstance, the baggage of Jasmine with a broken past, and of course there’s Cube as Curtis Plummer, the washed out athlete who proclaims his hatred for kids, takes quickly to Jasmine and never seems all too genuine in his motivations to get close to his niece. Is he bonding with her to make her a star, or because he actually likes her? And how could anyone really like Jasmine when her acid tongue keeps her a constantly annoying presence? And do people still laugh at the prospect of a woman joining a high school football team?
Look, we’ve seen this all before, and we’ll continue seeing it because this type of rehashed, tear jerking family sports flick is an instant cash cow. “The Longshots” never strives to be anything but old hat junk. The trailers proclaim that “The Longshots” is based on a true story, but I honestly doubt life is this trite and predictable.