Soccer Mom (2008)
There is an entire section in the cinematic comedy library devoted to well intentioned lies going awry. A reason that this is such a perennial favorite theme with audiences is almost every person in history has at one time or another told a lie that backfired. Typically in a light comedy the lie involves something else many of us have done; lied about who we are or what we do. Across the nation in pick up bars and school reunions this is one of the most common lie to be told. In this type of comedy the goal of the writers is to exaggerate the repercussions of the lie providing a modicum of a foundation for the main character getting trapped in their false statements. The humor in cases like this comes from the audience’s ability to understand the reason for the lie and perhaps even sympathize with it; laughing at just how fast it gets completely out of control. One of the latest in this long line of comic tradition is ‘Soccer Mom’ by Gregory McClatchy. The titular main character is relatable to millions of people around the country. Soccer moms have become one of the fastest growing demographics around. These are middle class housewives known for their exuberant devotion to their families. They are relatable just because everyone either knows one or is a soccer mom. Like any comedy of this sort there is more than a little suspension of belief required by the audience and a complete lack of cognitive skills necessary on the part of the characters. Yes, the guise employed to deceive the public and family is tissue paper thin but everyone is easily fooled. Then again baby boomers have been programmed to accepting such flimsy disguises as far back as Lucy masquerading as Harpo Marx. With a movie like this you just have to let go of the higher functioning parts of your brain and sit back to have a few laughs. This is intended as a family friendly, tween oriented flick that the whole family can watch and enjoy together. It stars Emily Osment who plays the best friend on the mega tween hit ‘Hannah Montana’ which certainly will draw a lot of that audience. The film is released direct to DVD by Anchor Bay and it is a silly distraction that will do what it sets out to do; provide some light hearted entertainment.
This film is the sophomore script for writer Frederick Ayeroff. His first screenplay was ‘Ace of Hearts’ about a police officer and his faithful canine companion. Here Ayeroff moves from man and his dog to the typical mother daughter faire. In this story the soccer mom in question is Wendy (Missi Pyle). Recently her husband died leaving her to raise her daughter Becca (Emily Osment) alone. The one thing that is helping Becca over the loss of her father is her involvement in the local soccer team for teens. She loves to play and is good at it but the team is on a bad losing streak. Her father was also the couch of the team and her mentor in the sport. The relationship between father and daughter was close and very special and try as she might Wendy can’t fill that gap in Becca’s life. It seems that there might be hope for the team after all. A world famous Italian soccer coach, Lorenzo (Dan Cortese) has agreed to train the kids. When Wendy goes to the airport to pick him up she finds a self important, arrogant misogynist. Wendy is not the type of woman who easily suffers a fool and lets him know exactly what she thinks of him. In a huff Lorenzo storms off taking the dream of the team with him. Wendy had also hoped that Lorenzo could be a new male role model and mentor for Becca but now that is gone. She does the only thing that she can think of, impersonate the coach and teach the team herself. Wendy goes to her friend and hair dresser, Tony DaSilva (Elon Gold) to help her transform into a man. This is accomplished thanks to a friend, Harry (Robert Cavanah) who just happens to work for a movie studio doing special effects makeup. Donning a wig and fake goatee she starts off a new role as an Italian soccer coach. Yes, a little bit of facial hairs does seem to fool everyone including her own daughter.
This may seem like an odd choice for director Gregory McClatchy. He has previous credits in a TV comedy and a horror flick. Here he takes off on a family comedy with style and just a little bit of flair. He has a natural knack for this type of film. He keeps things light even when the subjects such as death, parental responsibly and peer pressure are discussed. He could have added touches of an after school special here but wisely chose to keep things up beat. Of course there is the middle act where it seems that everything is crashing down around Becca and Wendy but even that is kept from becoming a downer to the audience. He keeps the pace up so there are no real slow spots, something extremely important for a tween audience. The jokes are sometimes hackney and over done but just look at it as part of the fun.
Besides Becca Wendy has two other children, Sammy (Dylan Sprayberry) and Kelci (Ellery Sprayberry). Life is fairly hectic for Wendy who now has to get to a job as well as keep track of her kids. She is so frantic that she resorts to drinking a cup of coffee the dog was just slurping. The rival for Becca’s team is a group of rich, spoiled brats who drive up in identical luxury cars’ the Malabo team. The worse of the bunch is Tiffany (Cassie Scerbo) whose mother makes statements like if you lose you will still be my daughter only it will be hard to love you. Becca’s initial replacement coach is Coach Kenny (Steve Hytner) who would rather be cooking Thai food. He opening remarks to the team before playing includes reminding them than none of them can play soccer. What this opening does accomplish is to provide an emotional center for the movie. Wendy is force to go to the ridiculous lengths she does for her daughter. It is not only to help her confidence, something Coach Kenny can’t do but to get even with the bullies in the world like Tiffany. Kids understand motivation like this and will tend to ignore how improbable the circumstances are. They just want to see the good girl get one over on the mean one. Both Pyle and Osment are excellent in their respective roles. These actresses are used to silly slapstick humor and they bring their A game to play here.
Anchor Bay maybe better known for the horror flicks they have been releasing lately but it is good to know that they have not forgotten the others genres in their collection of titles. This is fun on a juvenile level but just perfect for that rainy Saturday afternoon when the kids are stuck in the house. It would even be suitable for a long road trip to keep the kids occupied. While not great it is entertaining and that is what really matters.