The Winning Season

The Winning Season

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

What is it about girls'/children's sports in the film world that they are eternally destined to be coached by men with family and drink problems? From A League Of Their Own to The Bad News Bears the stereotype endures.

Weird then, that the master of indie films Sam Rockwell should find himself caught up in such a farago. But here he is nonetheless. He plays Bill, clearing tables in a restaurant until the local headteacher comes in and offers him the chance to shine again as a basketball coach ("I can't coach girls... women hate me"). The team, of course, is ethnically diverse and pretty rubbish, with each of the girls having a quirk, albeit an indie one - such as a penchant for much older men with moustaches.

Quicker than you can say "cliche" the girls are pulling together thanks to the slightly off-the-wall methods of Bill and his - possibly lesbian - assistant coach.

The path towards the play-offs is one trodden by a million movies before, except this time the teen angst of daughter and a vague lesbian subplot have been bussed in from an entirely different movie with a much more indie flavour, along with a raft of unecessary swearwords which will surely be a turn off for preteens (and more importantly their parents) who would otherwise warm to the triumph in adversity themes.

As the film progresses, its identity crisis becomes increasingly evident as standard indie tropes are interrupted by cackhanded attempts and comedy of the broadest type - from mascots dancing in red paint to the sight of the slightly overweight assistant coach working out as a backdrop to the more serious action as the film simply tries far too hard to generate laughs.

It's hard to know who James C Strouse (Lonesome Jim, Grace Is Gone) believes the audience for this film is. With the swearing limiting the appeal for younger audiences, older demographics will have seen it all before - and done much better. There is enough here to make a tolerable, if uneven and derivative watch, with Rockwell acquitting himself as well as he can in the central role - but The Winning Season is ultimately on a losing streak.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2009
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A misfit is brought in to coach his local girl's high school basketball team.
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