The sports film genre has not evolved.
These stories, about facing obstacles and overcoming them in victorious third acts, are inspiring, but ultimately feel like the same movie is being made over and over, with only the sport changing.
Adding another ingredient to the recipe feels like a manipulation. In the end, the movie is about overcoming all sorts of obstacles and celebrating. As true as this is, sometimes having that extra element in the equation works.
12 powerful orphans is a good example.
Ty Roberts directs 12 powerful orphans with the emotionality of a man who is very familiar with the situation he is trying to portray.
He knows that his resources are scarce and that the story does not have the ups and downs necessary to show a sincere story of struggle and achievement. However, he does enough and The we have to celebrate.
The film tells the story of the Mighty Mites, the American football team that was formed at the Masonic Widows and Orphans Home after a new coach was hired during the Great Depression. The orphaned team started playing soccer and within a few months became the talk of the town in Texas.
12 powerful orphans is told from the perspective of a coach who saw no choice but to make the children believe that they could be more than just parias of a society that had forgotten them.
Every scene you expect is there.
Every character you can think of is there.
What Roberts does with the story is fill in every dark corner and shed some light on an obscure fact.
He’s making a Hollywood movie out of it. It even contains unexpected cameos that, oddly enough, add nothing to its story. He focuses on one thing that matters: some kind of shaky performance.
What the film shows as the highlight is not as exciting as you might think. The script is as linear as the formula suggests, and Roberts stays on a safe path when it comes to the narrative. The services are pretty decent: Martin Sheen supporting role does an excellent job of balancing the story, the performances by young actors are fantastic. Jacob Lofland and Jake Austin Walker shine among the others.
For sure, 12 powerful orphans may be forgotten, but I don’t think Roberts wanted anything more. He does a lot with the elements and manages to tell a realistic story with what he has on hand (even if it fails a little during a court session).
In the territory of indie cinema, it feels like a victory. And that’s a lot for me.