Ice Cube's inevitable, uplifting sports bioflick, "The Longshots," is here. It's not as dopey as the gangsta rapper's family comedies. But it is formulaic, which is kind of a shame since Jasmine Plummer's story is a unique one.
Played very well here by "Akeelah and the Bee's" Keke Palmer, the middle-schooler was the first girl quarterback to take her team to the Pop Warner Superbowl.
In the film, she's a sullen bookworm with a long-gone daddy and no friends. When her mom (Tasha Smith) takes an extra shift at the diner in their economically depressed little town, Jasmine's unemployed uncle Curtis (Cube) is roped into hanging with the girl after school.
A former high-school gridiron star, now prone to wandering around with a pigskin in one hand and a Budweiser in the other, Curtis gets on Jasmine's nerves and vice versa. That section of the film is its best; the conflict between relatives is both subtle and no-holds-barred, funny but persuasive.
Once Curtis discovers that his no-good brother at least gave Jasmine his excellent arm, though, it's just a matter of waiting out the clock until the redemption express picks up has-been, phenom and the whole blessed town.
"The Longshots" shows all the earmarks of its director, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. Nah, just messing with you there; it's quite generic, even down to the same treacly musical score heard in every other inspirational sports movie. But Durst does deserve credit for keeping his cast and the film's gritty atmosphere real. Sure would like to see him make a movie that's as crazy as his band, though.
"The Longshots" is rated PG for some thematic elements, mild language and brief rude humor. Running time: 94 minutes.