Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
If I've seen one movie about a team of underdogs, I've seen a dozen. But I hadn't seen "The Longshots" before. It's based on the true story of 11-year-old Jasmine Plummer, from the south Chicago suburb of Harvey, who in 2003 became the first female to play quarterback in the Pop Warner football tournament.
Her story is remarkable, especially if you factor in her national wrestling title and honor student status. But the film is remarkable in other ways. It includes some of the expected elements of any film from this genre, but without the usual Hollywood supercharging. It's not all pumped up with flash and phoniness. Its stars play their characters with a quiet conviction, warm and touching. Its heroine is not the usual young girl who is required to be smarter and talk faster and correct adults in their faulty thinking. She has humility, shyness and a certain sadness.
And that is all the more impressive because Jasmine is played by Keke Palmer, who seems absolutely convincing in the role. Yet consider that this is the same actress (13 when the movie was shot) who played Queen Latifah's niece in "Barbershop 2," held her own in an exchange with Cedric the Entertainer in that film, starred in many Medea projects by Tyler Perry, and was the youngest actress ever nominated for best actress by the Screen Actors Guild.
That means this is real acting. Her Jasmine has not always wanted to play boys' football. In fact, she doesn't want to. But she has a good eye and a strong throwing arm, and is pushed into it by her uncle Curtis (Ice Cube), who was a star years ago on the same team. Curtis has been unemployed since the town's factory closed, has no aim in life, loves his niece, acts like a father to her because her own dad abandoned the family. He teaches her all he knows about quarterbacking, and more or less forces the coach (Matt Craven) to put her in a game. She's small but smart and quick, and soon her story is picked up by the press, and she quarterbacks the team into Pop Warner history.