An inspirational sports tearjerker in distilled form, this new Harvey Weinstein–hawked doc lands in North Memphis, where the underfunded, all-black Manassas High School football team sucks wind so bad, they're a state joke. Enter white volunteer coach Bill Courtney and the handful of walking clichés on his roster (the straight-outta-juvie hard case, the 300-pound refrigerator struggling with grades, the good-hearted star tragically felled by torn ligaments), and you're ready for cheers and hugs and big-man tears all the way to the playoffs—and an Oscar for the directing team of Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (the latter a Seattle native and Roosevelt/Western grad, now based in L.A.). Strangely, the Manassas Tigers are not at all undefeated during their ostensible championship season, which is a shame for the Weinsteins, who were probably envisioning an eventual Hollywood version complete with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Courtney, sweating and tough-loving the mountainous teenagers around him (not playing themselves, since a few require subtitles). Have you had enough even of true stories about white people rescuing black communities? Honestly, Courtney and his crew all seem like nice people, but if there's an unironic audience for this kind of romantic jock-cup fondling, I'm not interested in knowing it.
Courtney (center) on the sidelines.
Opens Fri., March 30 at Varsity. Rated PG-13. 113 minutes.