Anchor Bay’s new family friendly football based flick is something one might expect more to see on Lifetime network or Trinity Broadcast Network than in theaters. This blend of It’s A Wonderful Life, Friday Night Lights and so many other football based movies and TV shows is the sort of story that fans of Sherwood Pictures’ movies would enjoy, too.
The story behind Touchback is sappy and schmaltzy. But that’s not an entirely bad thing. It centers on former high school standout quarterback Scott Murphy. Murphy was on his way to stardom until he suffered a catastrophic leg injury on the last play of the last game of his last year in high school. Now he’s a down on his luck farmer living with his wife and daughters, struggling to make ends meet. It seems that ever since that injury in high school, bad luck has followed him everywhere he goes. And the worst is yet to come. When it’s revealed that he and the family might lose the farm, literally, he contemplates the unimaginable. Whether or not actual farmers have reached these limits is anyone’s guess. But to the credit of the story’s writer, Don Hanfield, the struggles of the American farmer do add some believability to the movie. Murphy’s struggle to maintain his farm is something that so many farmers face every year in real life. On one hand, it could be considered cliché to use this struggle as the basis for the story. But that relate ability is what adds the real emotion to the story.
The real factor of Scott losing the farm isn’t all that makes the movie work. Much to the surprise of the viewer, veteran actor Kurt Russell actually takes a back seat to Brian Presely and Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men, Sweet Home Alabama) in this movie. He allowed them to shine, which went a long way to allowing the movie’s survival. What’s more, the makeup department responsible for Russell’s makeup is to be commended. Those responsible for making him look much older did a very good job at that. Viewers are really led to believe that that’s likely what he would look like even off screen in his older years. So kudos to them for that.
The movie’s makeup people aren’t the only ones to be commended. The backdrop of the hills of Ohio aids this movie, too. Seeing the country setting, with the fall colors gives the movie a “warm” feeling that adds to the movie’s emotional depth. That setting will almost instantly pull in viewers who allow themselves to suspend their disbelief, and simply take in the story.
There’s no denying the fact that Touchback lifted very liberally from It’s A Wonderful Life and certain other sources. But then again, what movie today doesn’t do that? Taking that into account, one has to admit that while it may not be the most memorable movie out there, it’s still a story that many families will find enjoyable this and every holiday season.
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