The Longshots scores big as a funny and inspiring true story about Pop Warner's first and only girl quarterback.
Based on a true story, The Longshots takes its inspiration from 11 year-old Illinois native Jasmine Plummer's (Keke Palmer) incredible feat--becoming the only female quarterback ever in the Pop Warner football league. The film's arc really revolves around the relationship between the young gridiron star and her down-on-his-luck Uncle Curtis (Ice Cube), a former high school football great who can't seem to do anything right, except keep his trouble-prone niece in line. With his own dreams on the field now reemerging in the form of Jasmine, the two become an unlikely pair, as he gets her to tryout for the all boys local team, The Minden Browns. The skeptical coach (Matt Craven) becomes a believer watching her natural talent unfold. When he becomes ill, the call goes out to Curtis to come in and help guide the team--now led by the unlikeliest of quarterbacks.
In his recent family comedies, Are We Done Yet? and Are We There Yet?, Ice Cube (who started in gritty movies like Boyz N The Hood) seemed to be turning into the new Tim Allen, a safe father figure that would be right at home in a Disney movie. Even though The Longshots is definitely PG, it offers him an edgier role and a well-defined character to play for a change. Curtis Plummer is a lazy, down and out ex-ballplayer whose passion for life and football have disappeared. Cube, at the top of his game, gets this guy and gives him three dimensions, which makes his later scenes pay off all that much more. Perhaps it was having a real-life person to play that allowed Cube to stretch, even in a rather formula vehicle such as this. The other key ingredient that makes Longshots work as well as it does is clearly Keke Palmer, who made such a memorable debut in Akeelah and the Bee and confirms her promise as the feisty Jasmine. Together this twosome make The Longshots a pleasure to watch.
Second feature by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst is no embarrassment, as he clearly is serious about his new directing career and brings out all the action and comedy running through Nick Santora and Doug Atchison's script. Getting a first-rate performance from Ice Cube and a sterling turn from Palmer proves he knows what he's doing with actors, which is no small task. The game scenes are well-staged and the football stuff seems authentic, even though this story of a girl quarterback would not seem that believable if it weren't true. Still, no sports movie cliché is left unturned in The Longshots--right from the title to the end credits--but for some reason, it doesn't seem to matter. There are generous doses of heart and soul on display here making The Longshots a winner for the whole family.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.