Combustible Celluloid
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With: Brandon Routh, Crystal Allen, Chelsea Ricketts, Michael Hudson, Gil Birmingham, Dennis Ambriz, Tom Kemp, Mike Handelman
Written by: Brad Riddell, Todd Baird
Directed by: Steve Rash
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive references
Running Time: 105
Date: 05/18/2012

Crooked Arrows (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Steve Rash has made ultra-lowbrow comedies in Hollywood for three decades (Can't Buy Me Love, Son in Law, American Pie Presents Band Camp, etc.), and this attempt at a drama is pretty routine, but it demonstrates why some clichés became clichés: because they work. This is basically The Bad News Bears without the humor, though the tone is still fairly lightweight. What gives it a new twist is the natural heroic, underdog status of the Native American characters, as well as the historical and technical information on the sport of lacrosse.

Mixed-blood Native American Joe Logan (Brandon Routh) runs a successful casino and is in the middle of negotiating to sell off part of his ancestral land for an even bigger casino. But before the elders approve the sale, they have a condition: Joe must "examine his spirit" by becoming the coach of the ragtag lacrosse team. At first Joe doesn't take the job seriously, but soon becomes involved with the lost, unfocused teens. Before long, he has gone back to his roots and discovered how to make the team really work together. But can they defeat the wealthy white kids in the championship game?

Star Brandon Routh also helps a great deal; when he played Superman, he was fairly bland onscreen, but since then he has learned how to bring humanity and humility to his characters. His Joe is hugely appealing, and his journey is believable, even when the script rushes it. It's too bad the movie didn't have time for more interaction with individual players, or a more memorable team of bad guys. But by the end, it's difficult not to cheer for the good guys.

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