DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Grieving Girl Mimics Soccer-Star Sibling in Inspirational Family Flick
After the big brother (Johnny Lee Soffer) she so admires dies in an untimely accident, 15 year-old Grace Bowen (Carly Schroeder) has a hard time coping with the loss. Initially, her grieving in the wake of his passing is marked by an uncharacteristic juvenile delinquency. This doesn’t sit well with her parents (Dermot Mulroney and Elisabeth Shue) who are concerned that their daughter’s sudden rebelliousness might spiral into some serious self-destructive behaviors.
Fortunately, before Gracie bottoms-out, she finds a renewal in life when she is inspired to follow in her soccer phenom sibling’s footsteps. The problem is that it’s 1978, and she lives in South Orange, New Jersey in the days before high schools even fielded a girls’ team. So, the spunky sophomore’s only option is to try out for the all-male varsity squad.
This is easier said than done, for not only will she have to embark on a demanding, Karate Kid-quality regimen just to get in the shape necessary to compete against boys, but she’ll also have to endure their hazing, and petition the school board for official permission to participate. And that Herculean effort to overcoming all of these hurdles is at the center of Gracie, a heartwarming family flick loosely based on events which transpired in the lives of the picture’s writer/producer Andrew Shue and his co-producer sister, Elisabeth (who made her screen debut as Ali in Karate Kid), both of whom appear here in support roles.
Like the Bowen family, the Shues lost a brother, William, in a childhood accident and both developed an interest in soccer, with Andrew pursuing it all the way to the professional ranks. However, in Gracie their story has been simplified into a wholesome female empowerment adventure, and one very likely to resonate with youngsters of both sexes in the pre-teen crowd.
Very good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for brief sexual content.
Running time: 95 minutes
Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Commentary with Elisabeth and Andrew Shue, commentary with director Davis Guggenheim, “Bringing Gracie to Film” featurette, and a theatrical trailer.