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February 25, 2021
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GRACIE
(2007-06-08)
(wgvu) - Gracie is loosely based on the experiences of executive producer and star of the film, Elizabeth Shue, who was nominated for her performance in Leaving Las Vegas. The film is a genuine family affair, directed by her husband Davis Guggenheim, and co-starring her brother Andrew Shue, as an assistant coach. Gracie takes place in New Jersey in 1978, and it's about a working class family obsessed with soccer. Bryan Bowen is the father played by Dermot Mulroney, and he was a soccer star in high school before a knee injury snuffed his career. His oldest son Johnnie is a natural athlete, who excels at soccer. Johnnie loves his sister Gracie, and believes her to be a great athlete. In the opening scene, one of the best in the movie, Johnnie wagers that she can kick a ball twenty yards while barefoot and strike a bottle from the hood of a car.
The night after a big game with Johnnie dies in a car accident, and a pall falls over the family. Gracie begins acting up, stealing the family car for joy rides, hanging out with older boys, and neglecting her studies. (clip) Gracie wakes up one morning with a new attitude that's fueled by her desire to play soccer. There is no girls team, so Gracie wants to try out for boy's varsity. At first, her father is scornful, but he also fears for Gracie's life, in the wake of the tragedy. So he trains her, as he did Johnnie. (clip) School officials, including the soccer coach and his players protest having a girl on the team. When Gracie does get a chance to practice with the boys, she's given the rough house treatment, and beaten down, leaving her dejected. (clip) Gracie does know what to do, and it is a pleasure to watch her actions unfold. Even though there are sports movie clich s throughout Gracie I found it to be a mildly enjoyable film. I was the same age as most of these kids in 1978, and the filmmakers definitely got all the period details right. The soundtrack is filled with 70s songs, and I was happy for some unpredictable choices. This is a movie about real people, working class folk who live in a modestly lower middle class home, both parents working, attentive to their children's lives. Both Mulroney and Shue are excellent, and Carly Schroeder shines in the title role. Gracie should be inspirational for girls, of course, and as a guy I was rooting for her too.

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