Gracie‘s only achievement is technical, yet it has nothing to do with creative merit: Prints for the film, Davis Guggenheim’s first feature-length fiction, will be carbon neutral. Melrose Place fans will argue a second: Gracie heralds Andrew Shue’s return to acting after a nine-year hiatus. Thank (or blame) soccer for the actor’s comeback—or his famous sister Elisabeth, who is the inspiration for this story of a young girl who wishes to land a spot on her high school’s all-boy soccer team following the death of her revered older brother. The film begins in South Orange, New Jersey in 1978, when it is more plausible to imagine such a young woman’s inconvenient ambition meeting with resistance. This should have been a gripping story, but Guggenheim renders Gracie’s struggle egregiously maudlin through a cascade of moralizing feminist homilies, sports and teen-angst clichés, and hoary metaphor (“That bird will never fly,” says Gracie’s best friend about the Bowen clan’s oversized pet, but audiences know better). The film telegraphs itself as soon as Gracie’s brother dies and the girl finds that her vagina doesn’t allow her to be taken seriously by her father (Dermot Mulroney). He comes around rather arbitrarily, at which point it’s only a matter of time before Gracie trains like a beast, learns to fend off the aggression of the mean boys and girls that should be applauding her courage, and makes the soccer team. Worse, though, than the story’s pungent stink of familiarity is the ad-man aesthetic Guggenheim plies. The film insanely, almost belligerently speeds through its story, dramatizing one familiar formula after another without breathing room, leaving characters feeling like cardboard conceits. The film is pure hysteria, so clipped and unsettled it comes to play out like an extended television commercial, which it practically is given the very suspicious prominence of Gatorade bottles throughout.
- 95 min
- Davis Guggenheim
- Davis Guggenheim
- Carly Schroeder, Dermot Mulroney, Andrew Shue, Elisabeth Shue, Emma Bell, James Biberi, Trevor Heins,
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