It would be a cheap joke to say that I had high expectations for the soccer movie High Expectations. Actually, I had pretty low expectations, given that I had recently seen one of Kelsey Grammer’s Christmas movies. But Kelsey is not the problem in this drama, it’s pretty much everything else — except him and the lovely Ally Brooke.
In the story, soccer player Jack Davis (Taylor Gray) is estranged from his famous World Cup winning father and former coach. Dad Harrison Davis (Kelsey Grammer) coaches the Carolina Mantis, and his team is going for its 5th league championship with his older son in goal. But Dad cut younger son Jack from the team 3 years earlier, and since then, Jack has been playing rec league. It’s pretty clear why Jack is not a pro footballer: he drinks heavily, does drugs, has anger management issues, plus he’s short and dumpy and not athletic-looking.
But rather surprisingly, there are 3 games left in the season, and Jack goes to the Georgia Wild team, which is also in contention to win the league. The Wild is coached by a woman named Briana Scurry, played by the real Briana Scurry. The Wild are desperate for a striker, so she gives him a short but punishing tryout and signs him. Jack becomes the spark that takes the Wild to the championship game versus the Davis family Carolina team. And of course, it all comes down to a PK between brothers (ala Rudo y Cursi).
Off the pitch, Jack’s many emotional problems means he has only one friend in the world, he’s estranged from his family, he refuses to talk to the Dad who keeps reaching out to him, and his girlfriend has broken off with him. There’s nothing to like about Jack, and it’s hard to understand why his girlfriend sticks by him. And Jack plays so little, it doesn’t make sense why anyone would be his fan.
There are a lot of distracting holes in the characters’ backstories, as if a lot of film was left on the cutting room floor. Girlfriend Ally Brooke is a teacher who I guess wants to be a professional singer and has recorded a nice song. What happens with that? She accepts Jack’s wedding ring and then returns it. Then she goes to his game. Doesn’t make sense.
Coach Davis has a 2nd generation coaching cap that he hangs on the corner flag while declining to watch the final PK. What did all that mean? It came out of the blue, along with an additional brother. Plus, no AR would allow that hat to hang on the corner flag in a pro game. 🙂
Then there’s Jack’s escape from a possible drug bust, I think the night before the game. And I’m sorry, but it was weird watching Jack drive a mini-van everywhere — I guess his day job is being a mini-van cab driver? Wasn’t really explained.
There is quite a bit of soccer in the film, and while it doesn’t look fake, it’s nothing to get excited about. Brianna Scurry does a pretty good job of playing a tough, angry coach. She gets to give a rousing halftime speech in the big game. But unlike her GK history, she can’t save this film from all its confusion.
The story wasn’t that bad. Kelsey Grammer was better at playing a coach than playing ‘Father Christmas’, but I just couldn’t warm up to any of the characters. I give the production team some slack for filming in Georgia and for filming at all, during what was probably the worst part of the pandemic. But overall, I can only recommend this film for those who want to watch Ally Brooke or Briana Scurry in their acting debuts. This was also a first-feature film for Director Southard and Writer-Director White.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6