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The Longshots

Reel Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, mild language and brief rude humor
Released in Theaters: August 22, 2008
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family, Sports, Based on a True Story
Runtime: 94 minutes
Directed by: Fred Durst
Cast: Keke Palmer, Ice Cube, Tasha Smith, Matt Craven, Jill Marie Jones

Sex/ Nudity: Fairly mild. A man asks a woman on a date, and they’re shown flirting and hugging. A boy makes a reference to his “King Kongs,” but someone corrects him, calling them “Ping Pongs.”

Violence/Gore: Shoving and tackling on the football field. A coach has a heart attack on the field.

Profanity: Mild, including “damn,” “stupid,” “ass.” Kids at school tease Jasmine.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 8 and older who like dramatic family-bonding movies.

Will Parents Like It? Overall, this movie is a bit of a snooze, more suited to an ABC Afterschool Special than a feature film. But the message is good, especially for girls: break through your fears, and you can accomplish big things.

Review: The Longshots probably would have fared better as a Disney Channel original movie or direct-to-DVD fare. It’s a bit of a snooze, but still offers a good message about trying new things and going out of your comfort zone.

Based on a true story, the movie follows Jasmine Plummer (Keke Palmer), an 11-year-old middle-schooler who’s still smarting from the disappearance of her deadbeat dad years ago. She’s far from popular in her school, and the target of frequent taunts and insults from her classmates.

When her mom (Tasha Smith) takes an extra shift at the diner to make ends meet, she encourages Jasmine to find an after-school activity. She also encourages her ex’s brother, Curtis (Ice Cube), to spend time with Jasmine for a few hours after school.

Turns out that Curtis is a former high school football star, so he starts teaching Jasmine a few moves. They’re cheered on by the older homeless guys in town. She’s pretty good at it, and Curtis nudges her to try out for the local Pop Warner football team. In fact, she’s better than most of the guys on the team. They start winning games, and the economically depressed town gets a fresh outlook on life.

There’s not much new here in the way of sports movies. An underdog gets involved, a family bonds, a town cheers, and victory is within their grasp. The Longshots is fairly predictable in every way, but I love that it’s a good message for girls.

I jumped on the Keke Palmer bandwagon after seeing her in 2006’s Akeelah and the Bee with Laurence Fishburne. The Longshots doesn’t really showcase her considerable talents, and I’m hoping that some of her upcoming projects fare better in that regard.

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email jboursaw@charter.net.