When you have the right stakes, it doesn’t matter if William Shakespeare or William Goldman wrote the screenplay.
The story of the Masonic Home high school football team is so implying that Tommy Wiseau or the author of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” Edward D. Wood Jr. could make a good movie out of the book of no- Jim Dent’s fiction “12 Mighty Orphans”.
Ty Roberts’ new adaptation often plays like he has a list of soccer movie snaps to follow, but this one-season tale of the Depression era from Masonic Home features enough genuine triumphs over adversity. to melt the hearts of an army of cynics.
Coach Harvey Neal “Rusty” Russell (Luke Wilson) led a squad of Grid Warriors who likely wouldn’t qualify, let alone participate in Class A high school football in Texas.
Oh, did I mention they reached the state championship?
All the guys were orphans and outcasts so they had worse than almost everyone in the country in the 1930s. Their gear was first hand and for much of the season they had a lonely soccer ball. for training.
Thanks to Coach Russell’s ability to inspire guys on the court and in the classroom (one of his alumni later worked on the Manhattan Project), 12 managed to qualify academically for the game in high school. It’s still a paltry squad, and substitutions weren’t an option in violent play.
The food at Masonic Home was not to be so filling as they were also physically smaller than their opponents, which earned them the nickname “the Mighty Mites”.
It’s hard to overstate another David vs. Goliath tale, but Roberts and his company come together. There’s a cheesy voiceover that Martin Sheen’s brilliant performance almost gets over. It’s more fun to see him play the enthusiastic school doctor who is also Russell’s assistant coach.
The film mainly focuses on Russell’s struggle to build the team and defeat his opponents. The case is personal because Russell himself was an orphan and understood what it was like to be marginalized.
Where the film lacks is the way it portrays the players themselves. During the closing credits, we find out that several of them have led fascinating adulthoods, and a disproportionate portion have played ball professionally. During the film, only Jake Austin Walker in Hardy Brown, gruff but gifted, leaves a big impression.
To be fair to this group of filmmakers, the performers are better suited to the story than the sets Wood and Wiseau guided. As well as being serious enough, Wilson is from Fort Worth, so the accents are thankfully genuine, and having some real Lone Star locations certainly helps.
That said, it takes little imagination to determine that an orphanage run by Wayne Knight (who will always be remembered as Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis, Newman) could be hell.
Roberts has an advantage over many of his peers. Like the coach of his film, he knows that there is a big story in the misfortune.
“12 powerful orphans”
Actors 80: Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight, Treat Williams, Jake Austin Walker, Robert Duvall, Ron White
Director: Ty Roberts
Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, some suggestive references, smoking and short-term alcohol use by adolescents
Length :: 1 hour 58 minutes
To give his undersized athletes a chance against bigger schools, coach Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson, center) devised the spread offense, without which modern football would not have been possible. Surrounding Russell and Team Doctor Doc Hall (Martin Sheen) are (left to right, starting from the back) cast: Preston Porter, Woodrow Luttrell, Sampley Barinaga, Jacob Lofland, (middle): Levi Dylan, Manuel Tapia, Austin Russell, Michael Gohlke (front): Slade Monroe, Jake Austin Walker, Bailey Roberts and Tyler Silva.