Directed by: Davis Guggenheim
Premise: A true story of a female high school student (Carly Schroeder) who tried out for the boys soccer team, enabling Title IX and paving the way for future female athletes.
What Works: Gracie is a very good example of the sports hero story. Although it is ostensibly about soccer, Gracie is really about female adolescence and gender identity, using the character’s burgeoning maturity and her relationships with her family, with other girls, and with boys to gauge and characterize her development. Like Rocky and Raging Bull, the film spends as much time on the protagonist’s interpersonal relationships as it does on the training and sports elements of the story and the two elements reinforce each other. Of these relationships, Gracie’s relationships with her mother (Elisabeth Shue) and her father (Dermot Mulroney) are most interesting because Gracie is such a combination of the two and her tension with each of them acts out the tensions in the marriage. The other element of Gracie that is very interesting is the film’s development of the character’s maturity and her emerging womanhood. The film does not reduce Gracie to a girl acting like a boy, but makes her into a woman attempting to compete in a man’s world. The film allows the character to retain her femininity but also her dignity.
What Doesn’t: The film does not have the polish of many other films of its kind such as Invincible. Also, although Gracie does the sports story well, it is very cliché. The clichés are forgivable because it does the formula so well, but moviegoers who are looking for something more may be disappointed.
Bottom Line: Although Gracie does not do much that is original in the sports genre, it does do it very well. The film gives its actors something to do besides play soccer and contains deeper levels beyond athletic competition.
Episode: #148 (July 15, 2007)