Monday, May 28, 2012

Crooked Arrows

I admit to being kind of curious about this movie from the start, especially since when I saw Seediq Bale last week, there were a lot more posters up than one might expect for a movie that seems more or less self-distributed, including (I think) a table by the escalator.

I was kind of surprised to see it sticking around for a full second week, but it's actually got a wider release coming this Friday. I kind of suspect that it will do a good chunk of its business on group sales, with school lacrosse teams and Native American groups buying a fair chunk of tickets.

Of course, I'll half-joke that the thing that got me into the movie was seeing an ad on NESN which included a clip of Sean McDonough, former Red Sox play-by-play guy, playing himself covering the team. Nice comeback for him; I don't think he's been in a movie since he and Tim McCarver did the play-by-play in the opening sequence of Mr. Baseball.

Crooked Arrows

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 28 May 2012 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, digital)

Crooked Arrows is a button-pushing sports movie notable for both the sport being played (lacrosse) and the underdog school (a Native American nation in upstate New York). It's likely to be far from the best sports movie or "life on the reservation" movie anyone in the audience will ever see, but it's an amiable couple of hours that doesn't embarrass either of the niches it serves.

Native Americans of the Haudenosaunee nations have been playing lacrosse (also known as "the Creator's Game" and "the medicine game") for hundreds of years, but in the present, the Sunaquot Nation (a fictional equivalent of the Onondaga Nation) high school in upstate New York is getting its butt kicked by Coventry Prep in a pre-season scrimmage. When star player Jimmy Silverfoot (Tyler Hill) comes out with a sore shoulder, manager Nadie Logan (Chelsea Ricketts) inserts herself, only to have her ankle broken in two places. On the other side of the reservation, her older brother Joe (Brandon Routh) manages the casino, whose white developer (Tom Kemp) is leaning on him to get an expansion. A former star for Coventry, Joe gets the council to agree with a caveat - he must take over coaching the team from his father (Gil Birmingham), who describes it as a spiritual quest.

There's a standard template for high school sports movies, and this one never veers far from it: The viewer can check off the coach who's not really a bad guy but has had misplaced priorities, the showboating ball hog, the guy who rides the bench, the girl who loves the game more than many of the players, and so on. Writers Brad Riddel and Todd Baird aren't looking to subvert expectations here, and on occasion, things happen because it's the point in an inspiring sports story where such things happen. The portions of the movie that attempt to deal with the compromises Native Americans must make are even thinner.

Full review at EFC.

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