While it hit theaters without making much of an impression, one wonders if a greater concern was timing "The Longshots" in order to land in the middle of football season. The underdog sports movie (directed by none other than former Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst) stars Ice Cube as Curtis, the aimless uncle of Jasmine (Keke Palmer, "Akeelah and the Bee"), who is having trouble making friends at a new school.
With her mom working progressively longer hours and Jasmine with no place to go, her mother - desperate for help - calls in Curtis to look after her. While the two don't get along (or even talk to one another), when Curtis and the local reverend are throwing around the football a little, it lands at Jasmine's feet. The resulting toss is spectacular, and Curtis realizes that Jasmine has a gift.
Although she still just wants to be left alone, the two gradually bond over football, and he tries to help her train for an eventual attempt at getting on the local Pop Warner team. Although the local coach takes some convincing, she eventually makes her way onto the team. As Jasmine and the team become more successful, Curtis also starts to improve himself, even making an attempt to ask out Jasmine's teacher. When the coach has a heart attack and is hospitalized, Curtis steps in.
The performances in the film aren't too bad - Ice Cube is pretty decent and Keke Palmer is charming in her role. However, director Fred Durst and writer Nick Santora pile on the cliches and add in as much sappiness as they can. While the material is predictable in the extreme, Palmer's performance carries the interest reasonably well - the movie didn't need to be so heavy-handed with the drama (the score is ridiculously manipulative.) The film's visuals aren't particularly noteworthy, although it's a positive that Durst didn't go the music video route with the editing of the football sequences.
Overall, "The Longshots" is simply mediocre - while the performances are generally pretty good, the movie is sappy to a remarkable degree, which really takes away from what drama the predictable story is able to manage.
VIDEO: "The Longshots" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Genius Products Home Entertainment. Sharpness and detail were generally above-average, as while a few softer-looking scenes were spotted, the picture maintained a crisp, detailed look during most of the film. No edge enhancement or artifacting was noticed, and the film's sepia tone appeared spot-on (although I thought it was a little odd that a movie taking place in present day was made to look - at least at times - like a period film.)
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation offered remained fairly uneventful throughout the show. Surrounds kicked in for some mild reinforcement of the score, as well as a few moments of ambiance on occasion. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and full, clear score.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, "making of" documentary, conversation with director Fred Durst featurette, conversation with Ice Cube featurette, Jasmine Plummer: the Real Longshot featurette and trailer.
Final Thoughts: Ice Cube and Keke Palmer offer fine performances, but their efforts are in service of a run-of-the-mill underdog sports script. Durst's film also doesn't trust the actors, instead employing an overly manipulative score and a heavy-handed, sappy feel. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras.
The Film C-