Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: The Winning Season

We're fond of inspirational sports movies around here, but THE WINNING SEASON, from 2009, is one that we missed until now. It's the story (not based on or inspired by actual events, as far as I know) of a washed-up high school basketball coach (Sam Rockwell) who's been reduced to working as a busboy in a restaurant because he attacked a player on an opposing team during a game. An old friend and teammate of his who is now a principal hires him to coach again, but this time he's in charge of girl's basketball.

When he starts the job, he finds that his team is a bunch of misfits (of course) who may or may not have any talent. So far, this set-up is strictly by the book. But then the script veers off and cleverly upends some of the clich├ęs of the genre while exploiting others to the hilt. The result is a surprisingly funny movie where you genuinely don't know what to expect all the time.

Sam Rockwell is an odd but interesting actor, and he does a good job here playing a protagonist who's really not very likable, but you root for him anyway. Emma Roberts, who's probably tired of being called "Julia Roberts' niece", is also good as one of the basketball players. The great Margo Martindale is the bus driver and assistant coach. THE WINNING SEASON is just quirky enough to set itself apart from similar movies, and that made it a pretty good little film. I enjoyed it.


Todd Mason said...

Cool. Ever seen EDGE OF AMERICA?

James Reasoner said...

Nope, that's another one I missed. But it looks good and I like James McDaniel, so I added it to our Netflix list. Thanks for the heads-up.

Todd Mason said...
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Todd Mason said...

Good rather than superb, but it packs some home truths in the framework of a sports film. The line I remember best: Irene Bedard's character listens to McDaniel's complaints about inequitable treatment, and tells him, about the students he's coaching, close paraphrase: "These are Indian girls. They don't need anyone to tell them about discrimination."

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We got both of these from our local library and watched them over the weekend and they are very similar in a lot of ways. The latter film doesn't have the personal baggage of WINNING SEASON but otherwise they are quite close.

Apparently, EDGE OF AMERICA was a Hallmark movie but I don't remember it.

Jeff M.