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Movie Review- "Soccer Mom"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ms. Hollywood D. Light

Hometown Hollywood Connection

I thought that since big hurricane IKE came and tossed things around quite a bit here, that I would try a new idea for this column that I've also been tossing around in my head... movie reviews. For my first official movie review, I would like to take a look at the newly released independent film "Soccer Mom", just released on Sept. 30, 2008. While this is an independent film, meaning that it wasn't released by a major studio, but rather, funded by smaller budget "independent" sources; it plays out like a larger-budget movie released in theaters. Ladies Home Journal has sponsored this movie. This very family friendly flick can be purchased at Wal-Mart or online at Amazon.com. The story line, written by Frederick Ayeroff, and directed by Greg McCatchy, seems at first glance to be too far-fetched to pull off with any realism or believability. The story is based on a young girl, Becca, (Emily Osment of Hannah Montana fame), and her love of soccer, even after her soccer-coach father's recent death. The story line primarily revolves around the strained relationship Becca has with her mother, Wendy, (Missi Pyle, who was Violet Beauregard's mother in the recent screen adaptation of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory").

This is a great teen and kid-friendly family funny movie with a positive and uplifting message. Plus, adults will enjoy the humorous hints at awkward adult situations.

The first thing that struck me about "Soccer Mom" was that the storyline was not really that believable. I mean, who in their right mind would want to dress up like a foreign man, and even much less, be able to pull it off convincingly to their own friends and family? But what happened in this movie was reminiscent of the famous "Mrs. Doubtfire", only with the gender roles reversed. While Robin Williams successfully played an older woman in the 1993 hit; Missi Pyle was also able to pull off (quite well!) an Italian soccer stud complete with Italian accent, mannerisms, and lingo. Even as the plot and characters were revealed, I saw that the actors did a fine job of convincing me that this could actually happen: a "Soccer" mom could indeed masquerade as the girls' Italian soccer coach, but probably not as convincingly as Missi Pyle was able to do. I believe this, because I see the incredible sacrifices and great lengths some parents will go to in order to make their children happy. In this movie, the motivation for Wendy was two-fold: to understand her daughter's issues better, and try to help her get past her father's death. There's also the added plus of getting to spend more quality time with Becca, thus the character "Coach Lorenzo" was born.

Robin Williams, who is currently on a world comedy tour, had the daunting, but highly successful task, of pulling off the role of an older matronly woman in the movie "Mrs. Doubfire". This movie was one of the biggest hits of 1993.

Like "Mrs. Doubtfire", "Soccer Mom" does have its unbelievable moments; like, how could Wendy do such a bang-up job with all those prosthetics, hair, beard and makeup, while putting everything on in the back of her van? This, while in actuality, a team of makeup artists, (according to Pyle in her interview in the Special Features), had to spend 3-4 hours a day air brushing her face and attaching hairpieces, special padded body suits and putty. If you can get past this obvious flaw in the plot, then the rest is really funny, entertaining and even touching. There are also some humorous "adult" situations too, like when Wendy"s best friend is attracted to "Lorenzo", and Lorenzo has to kiss her or risk losing an eyebrow and being found out. There are also numerous references to cross-dressing; and the ongoing shenanigans of the real Lorenzo, who constantly portrays the stereotypical oversexed Italian Stallion.

Another negative I saw in this film (which also corresponds with many other Independent or "Indie" films) is this: I could tell that a few corners were cut in the wardrobes, scenes and in the filming. This movie was shot on such a tight budget that certain corners got cut. Some scenes that needed re-shooting were not redone, plus there were some continuity errors, especially with clothing and props. Some scenes are too dark and difficult to see, because they needed to be filmed earlier when there was more light, as in the party scene. Also, the music sounded a little too repetitive. Although I like the theme song, they needed to add a few other good songs in addition to the main theme song that gets played over and over.

Missi Pyle, (right), as Wendy, Becca's Soccer Mom.

But the best part of the movie is the acting. Both Emily Osment and Missi Pyle are the true stars in this one. Osment, scores points for her naturalness, talent, and believability-even when she gets really mean with her rival, the opposing Malibu team's star forward. And Pyle gives a hilarious Lucille Ball-like portrayal of Lorenzo. She not only has a good accent, she also lowers her voice perfectly: a little lower, but not too much. When I first saw her transformation into Lorenzo onscreen, I thought they'd used a double, but it really is her! She perfects the gestures, walk, and even the awkwardness that an older foreign "man" would have with a teenage all girls' soccer team. The funniest moments are when Lorenzo awkwardly butchers common US internet references, like asking, does he "have to send them an Een-vite for them to get out and play?" and talks about chatting on "those My Spaces". Pyle gets the English phrases all mixed up, and spoofs a lot of real Italian phrases, to make the character really believable. She even gets the Italian accent just right. I have to say from experience, that I have tried to use accents on stage and it's really tough to get them right. And strangely, I've also "played" a man for certain opera roles, and it's really tough for a woman to get the walk and the male gestures down. However, because of the increasing portrayals of "drag queens", it's typically much easier for a man to play a woman than for a woman to play a man. There just aren't that many situations out there where we see women playing men effectively, nor is it usually as accepted as when men play a woman.

Pyle as Italian Soccer star Lorenzo Vincenzo.

I give this movie two thumbs up. I was pleasantly surprised that it came together so well. (I even have a very brief cameo in it in the beauty shop where Wendy works, but don't let that sway you not to buy it!) If you see this movie, you will get a funny, entertaining, and good story, with an "interesting" makeover, very gifted actors, and good soccer scenes rolled in for good measure. I highly recommend this movie to your entire family for your next movie night. For more information and a trailer about "Soccer Mom", please visit: http://www.thesoccermommovie.com/

Until then, please visit: www.HollywoodDLight.com for other fun articles, my blog, celebrity news, and other D. Lightful information! Till then, keep on smilin' and stylin'!

Ta for Now!

Ms. Hollywood D. Light

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