Character Drives Hometown Legend
- Monday, March 11, 2002
Editor's Note: Hometown Legend is playing in limited release and will be expanding regionally this summer.
Hometown Legend - PG
Best for: Older kids and adults.
What it's about: Athens, Ala., is known for its legendary football team, led by coach Buster Schuler (Terry O'Quinn), until a tragic accident causes him to retire from coaching. Twelve years later the town is facing financial hard times and the high school is close to being shut down, but the prayers of student Rachel Sawyer (Lacey Chabert) seem to produce a small miracle. Elvis Jackson (Nick Cornish), part of that miracle, is a new kid in town who sees a scholarship as a free ticket to college.
When Coach Schuler returns for one last season of football, he hopes to lead the team to a championship season and rid the school of the scholarship (named after his son) that has torn the team apart year after year. When the team finally realizes how to be a team, there's only a slim chance to win . . . but enough time to expect a miracle.
The good: This is a thoughtful character-driven story about a town's last hope for survival. The movie focuses on the game of football and personal rivalries, while emphasizing the sacrifice of individual goals for the sake of the community.
The story's tension comes from competition for the scholarship, which sends only one player to the University of Alabama each year. Several scenes are devoted to Elvis and Rachel getting to know and respect each other.
Football fans will like the action. The excellent soundtrack moves the story along and adds to the spiritual undertones in the story. O'Quinn gives a solid portrayal of a coach desperate to make a lasting statement. Cornish gives a strong performance that goes well beyond the football field, as he struggles to believe he can overcome the overwhelming odds against him. Lighter moments (Rachel catches him dancing in a diner by himself) bring balance to his character.
Cornish's standout performance was my favorite, but I also got a chuckle out of Mark McLachlan's performance as Sherman Naters, a.k.a. "the Shermanator." I enjoyed the story, the spirit and the message of this movie.
The not-so-good: The coach comes across as sort of mechanical early in the film but warms up by the end of the story. There should have been a few more scenes of the coach actually teaching his "winning" strategy to the team, instead of just telling them to get out on the field and play.
Offensive language: None.
Sexual situations: None.
Violence: Plenty of hits and tackles, but nothing too violent.
Parental advisory: Take your older child or teenager to this great family film, incorporating the fighting spirit of a small town and the loyalty and love the town has for its beloved football team. In the end, it's all about character. Hometown Legend will have you cheering by its unique and exciting ending -- one of the most unusual games I've ever seen on the big screen!
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