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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Longshots (Blu-ray)
The Longshots (Blu-ray)
The Weinstein Company // PG // December 2, 2008 // Region A
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan | posted December 20, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Longshots is another film in a long line of family appropriate sport dramas, so the question that had to be asked is, why did this movie have to be made in the first place? Ice Cube started out doing some pretty interesting films, and now he's been reduced and practically type-cast into doing easy to swallow features the entire family can enjoy. You would think by now, he'd be able to take a look at a script and realize that it's unnecessary and there isn't possibly anything new that could be brought to the table. I guess the money does a lot of talking, and not just for him, but for Fred Durst as well. Wait, you didn't hear? Yes, Fred Durst is directing films. In fact, this is his second directorial effort and I'm sure he's trying for bigger and better projects in the future. Surprisingly good for a second directorial effort, The Longshots never gets a touchdown thanks to a film that does everything it can to play it safe.

Jasmine lives in the small town of Minden, and she's just your typical girl that's crazy about keeping up with the latest clothing trends. Everything else in her life isn't quite as typical however, as she's seemingly destined to be an underdog. She's unpopular at school, and a huge void is in her life thanks to the absence of a father figure.

Her uncle Curtis comes into the picture to try and straighten things out in Jasmine's life. He's less than thrilled to do it, but family has to be there for each other no matter what. He's a man's man, and taking care of a young girl isn't quite his thing.

He eventually takes interest in the girl after seeing that she's got an impressive arm. Intrigued by the lonely girly girl's ability to throw a football, he continues to bring her down the path of the underdog. A girl playing football isn't exactly something that's normal for a local Pop Warner team, but teaching Jasmine that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, and that she can do anything as long as she works hard for it, brings Curtis and Jasmine closer together.

Keeping her isolated and keeping her eye on the prize gives her confidence and helps with her self-esteem. Once her head is where it needs to be, things start to look good for Jasmine as she proves that she's a force to be reckoned with on the field.

The entire script isn't all peaches and cream, as there's all sorts of emotional pain that act as distractions along the way. Some of these events are truly sad, but the entire movie is rather tame no matter what's going on, and that's my biggest issue with The Longshots.

There's no huge emotional impact throughout a majority of the film. I have a huge feeling that this is because The Longshots was designed to be suitable enough for maybe a five year old to go see, or even a forty-five year old. The movie is way too safe for its own good. The story has been done before, the script is adequate enough but it's incredibly weak, and there were no real surprises along the way. Well, none at least that seemed to make any difference to me at least. As I said, the emotional impact from this film was minimal at best.

If Ice Cube is bound and determined to stick with family friendly films, I have to at least give him credit for his work in this film. He's more 'real' in this film than in the recent 'kids terrorizes older man' flicks. It shows off what Ice Cube can pull off when he's given some sensitive material. Keke Palmer (as Jasmine) was very good herself. Together, their chemistry was heartwarming and sweet, but unfortunately wasn't enough to save the film.

Don't get me wrong. The Longshots isn't an awful movie by any means. If I had a young kid and wanted to watch something with them that wasn't Spongebob Squarepants, this is a perfect movie to sit down and enjoy with them. As far as the rest of the movie-going audience is concerned however, there are definitely better ways to spend your time.


Video

The transfer of this AVC 1080p encode is great. The 2.35:1 image reveals plenty of detail, and there don't seem to be any issues due to compression. On top of that, the image doesn't appear to have been tampered with by edge enhancement or DNR.

Black levels are pretty darn good for this film, but the contrast leaves a bit to be desired. This appears to have been more about the artistic choice behind the color palette though, as the film intentionally adopts a de-saturated look. Colors are never going to 'pop' or 'wow' you, but that's not what its intentions are. It has been stripped of bright and beautiful colors, and knowing that we have a director on board that isn't too experienced behind the camera just yet, I'm sure the intention was to make the movie feel more 'real' in this respect. What Durst hasn't learned yet however, is the ability to know when to use a washed out look in a film, and when to use the full range of the color wheel in other scenes. As a result, the image isn't bursting with a third dimensionality, and a film that's already following the theme of the underdog looks a little too drab for its own good.

Audio

We have a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track here, but it's a rather unimpressive one. The transfer itself doesn't appear to be flawed with any hisses or pops or other ugly compression issues, but just like the video transfer, the soundtrack is incredibly flat. The film is incredibly front heavy. There's a great chance for there to be some great directionality in the audio department, but the mix just wasn't done well enough to provide an engulfing experience.

Also includes an English Dolby 5.1 track, and subtitles are available in Spanish and English.


Extras

Deleted Scenes - There are about 20 minutes worth of deleted scenes here, much more than I imagined there would have been for this under the radar film. They actually do a decent job of giving us a little more background on our main characters, so the scenes are worth a watch. I can see why they were ultimately cut though, because the movie seemed to have been cut as good as it could have been. Any more would have beefed it up too much.

Making The Longshots - There are plenty of brief interview clips on this featurette, but there isn't enough of that behind the scenes stuff to keep any interest. I would skip this one.

A Conversation with Fred Durst/A Conversation with Ice Cube - These two featurettes are fairly straightforward. Fred and Ice sit down separately to talk about their experience with making The Longshots,and what originally drew them to the project.

Jasmine Plummer: The Real Longshot - This movie was based on a true story, so this featurette sits us down with the real Jasmine Plummer as she tells us the real story.

Also included is the film's theatrical trailer.

All in all, the features here are a disappointment. They're not informative enough, and there's not even a director's commentary. This is pretty standard stuff, so where is it?


Overall

The Longshots is becoming more and more known for being helmed by none other than Fred Durst, and Durst has taken a lot of heat because of who he is. I'm going to be fairer than most here when I say that Fred Durst isn't a bad director. This is only his second directorial effort, and for being a mainstream film, he did a fairly decent job. That's not to say that he doesn't have an awful lot to learn though.

The Longshots is way too safe in almost every way. It's strictly by the numbers and incredibly dull because of that. The only saving graces in this film had to have been the acting and charisma between Ice Cube and Keke Palmer. If you have a younger child at home that needs to a see a decent live action film that everyone in the house can tolerate, than this film may be for you. Unfortunately, there's not much else of a reason for anyone else to see this movie, or this Blu-ray for that matter. The extras are extremely minimalistic, and there's not even a director's commentary to be found. Do yourself a favor and skip it.

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