Supposedly based on events from the adolescence of actress Elisabeth Shue, this is an amiable, totally predictable, underdog sports melodrama about a determined young girl who defies the odds to play high-school soccer.
Set in South Orange, New Jersey, in 1978, back when it wasnt socially acceptable for females to participate in certain athletic endeavors, it revolves around Grace Bowen (Carly Schroeder) who, after her oldest brother dies in a car accident after his team lost to their archrival, attempts to break the gender barrier to take his place on the boys soccer team. She trains tenaciously, impresses everyone and scores the big goal to save the day. No surprises.
Since shes obviously too old to star in this fictionalized but very personalized story, Elisabeth Shue plays her own i.e. Gracies overprotective mother, while her real-life director husband, David Guggenheim (Oscar-winner An Inconvenient Truth), gets tripped up with too little time-centric authenticity and too many clichés, like utilizing soaking rains and soggy violins to evoke sadness and Gracies setting a caged bird free to fly away.
From Lisa Marie Petersen and Karen Janszens screenplay, we learn very little about Gracie except her overwhelming soccer ambition, and the dialogue is heavily laced with declarations like I am tough enough and You can do anything! Elisabeths brother Andrew Shue, a survivor of Melrose Place, makes a token appearance as a teacher.
Its sad that its so decidedly mediocre because Carly Shroeder (Lizzie McGuire) delivers a spirited performance, as does Dermot Mulroney as Gracies gruff but loving father, burdened with his own childhood issues. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Gracie is an inspirationally formulaic 4. In every sense, its a vanity-propelled family project that would have played better as an after-school television special.