Sam Rockwell and Emma Roberts star in The Winning Season, a basketball movie that arrives on DVD next week. Originally released to theaters in September, it's a film few people have heard of or will ever see, despite the talent involved. Typically, it's not a good sign when a movie is released to theaters (albeit a limited release) with so little awareness and then hits video stores just a couple months later, but there are exceptions. The Winning Season is one of those exceptions.
Rockwell stars as Bill, a down-out-out drunk of a dishwasher at a local restaurant who is hired by his old friend and now-school principle Terry (Rob Corddry) to coach a high school girls basketball team. He reluctantly agrees and proceeds to coach the Spartan team. Like in so many sports movies, the team starts off badly and slowly gets better through teamwork and camaraderie.
The Winning Season is a mildly funny and consistently entertaining sports comedy. The movie features yet a humorous but troubled performance by Sam Rockwell. His performance elevates the material from being yet another basketball movie to something unique and worthwhile. On its own, The Winning Season doesn't seem like much. It isn't about some epic, true-life sports story; it's about a team that simply has a winning season. The girls' lives aren't sensational, nor is the overall story. And yet Rockwell and the rest of the cast, on a screenplay written by director James C. Strouse, make the movie more than worthwhile.
In the end, The Winning Season will be forgotten. It isn't grand or thrilling or the funniest movie out there. But it is entertaining, and consistently so. Strouse litters the film with underlying subplots that somehow, despite their seeming randomness, make it more believable. One of the girls is beginning to realize she is gay. Another is dating a much-older man. Yet another is dating a guy who seems more concerned about kissing than showing an active interest in her. The coach is a drunk and barely has a relationship with his daughter. Some of the subplots are barely touched on, almost as if they were added to fill out its short running time, but combined, they work in the film's favor.
The Winning Season won't blow your socks off, but it's a consistently entertaining, lighthearted and heartwarming drama-comedy that's well worth viewing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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