Aside from a few references to Tyra Banks and Beyonce, "The Longshots" feels like it unfolds in a bygone era.
It's as though rocker-turned-director Fred Durst and producer-star Ice Cube are determined to show that they can be tender traditionalists. If anything, they err on the side of understatement in this insistently old-fashioned triumph-of-the-underdog sports drama. The film's crucial weakness, though, is a script that too dutifully hits every standard plot point of the genre to deliver the intended inspirational impact.
Credited to Nick Santora, the screenplay turns the true story of Jasmine Plummer -- who in 2003, at age 11, became the first and only female quarterback to play in the Pop Warner national football tournament -- into something familiar rather than remarkable. Still, young star Keke Palmer ("Akeelah and the Bee") is a warm, likable lead, and if much in the movie feels by-the-numbers, she and Ice Cube, as the girl's unlikely mentor, generate a believable, affecting chemistry. Filling a family-film void, the earnest film could make a modest showing on the boxoffice scoreboard.
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