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Friday, June 1, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Gracie" scores a goal with heart and gumption

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars


Showtimes

"Gracie," with Carly Schroeder, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Andrew Shue. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, from a screenplay by Karen Janszen and Lisa Marie Peterson.

90 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief sexual content.

Sports movies about girls are still such relative rarities that "Gracie" arrives with built-in good will. It's inspired by a real-life story: actress Elisabeth Shue's experiences playing soccer on an all-boys league as a preteen. And the film is a family affair: Shue and brother Andrew co-star; Andrew also produced, and Elisabeth's husband, Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth"), directed.

That's a lot of warm-and-fuzzy for one movie, but "Gracie" pretty much succeeds in maintaining the good vibes. It's helped by a spirited, likable performance by Carly Schroeder in the title role, as a teen in a soccer-playing family who's frustrated when her father (Dermot Mulroney) thinks she isn't tough enough to play on a boys team. (There's no girls team at her school, where the authorities try to shuffle her off to field hockey.) At first, Gracie's older brother Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer), also a soccer star, encourages her, but when he's suddenly killed in a tragic accident, she's left alone with her dreams.

That death, and Gracie's subsequent acting-out, gives "Gracie" some pretty heavy subject matter for a family movie; parents should note that this isn't a lighthearted film, and that for a while Gracie's shown sneaking into bars and making out in cars with strangers. (It's reminiscent, for a short time mid-movie, of "Thirteen.") But soon the focus goes back to sports, and to Gracie's determination to prove herself, when she's finally won both her father's attention and a chance to try out for the boys team.

The movie's final half-hour is mostly predictable, in the way that sports dramas virtually always are, right down to the kid in the stands who helpfully explains the game for the audience's benefit. But there are some powerful moments (such as Elisabeth Shue, as Gracie's mother, giving a touching, unexpected speech about how she doesn't share her family's competitive spirit), and by its end "Gracie" earns its cheers.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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