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Bend It Like Beckham

By Genevieve Geoghan
16, Marlborough School

You must be proud,” says the reporter to a woman about her soccer-playing daughter. The mother replies, “Not at all! She shouldn’t be showing her bare legs to people! She’s bringing shame on the family!”

Although this first scene in Bend It Like Beckham is only a dream that Jesminder is having, it introduces you to her world. Jess (Parminder Nagra) is growing up in a traditional Indian family in England. When she joins a girls’ soccer team, she keeps it a secret from her parents, who would rather that Jess learned how to make a “traditional Indian dinner.” When her parents find out, they try to keep her from playing soccer to avoid bringing shame on the family. Jess is pulled between doing what she really loves and getting in trouble for it, or gaining the respect of her family.

One of my favorite things about the movie is the way it portrays so many issues that come up in teenagers’ lives, like self-esteem and family pressure. Jess’s friend and teammate, Jules (Keira Knightley), is pressured to find a boyfriend and go bra-shopping with her eccentric mother, who is convinced that her tomboyish daughter is gay. In the midst of all this, Jess is in love with Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who is off-limits not only because he’s her soccer coach, but also because he’s not Indian.

The movie contrasts Indian traditions and the modern world. In a climactic scene, Jess goes to make the winning goal in the final soccer game, and in her mind, her family members pop up in front of the soccer goal, dressed in traditional Indian saris looking completely out of place. However, the film’s lightheartedness and uplifting music reassures the audience that the two cultures can live together—which is what Jess is really trying to achieve.


Mr. 3000

By Joo Yoon
18, Diamond Bar HS

Mr. 3000 is nothing like the clichéd underdog sports stories, such as The Replacements, that have been produced recently.

Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) is a talented, yet egotistical player who retires as one of the few players ever to get 3,000 hits, thereby almost guaranteeing his entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, a review of his stats showed that one of his games was recorded twice, giving him only 2,997 hits.

So he goes from Hall of Fame hopeful to just another good baseball player. With his pride and ego on the line, Ross, now 40, decides to suit up again and get his hits. The media thinks he’s a joke, and his teammates think he’s washed up.

This movie is a classic example of someone full of ignorance and denial. Ross believes he is still the same player he once was and makes a stupid bet in the beginning of his comeback claiming that he could do 40 pushups, only to fall after doing six. Ross realizes that he is just another old man who can talk the talk, but definitely can’t walk the walk, even with the walker his new teammates give him to mock his age.

I thought that Bernie Mac did a fine job except for his awkward swing. The only realistic sports action is when he dives trying to reach first base. Even with the unrealistic baseball scenes, Mac provides a breath of fresh air and plenty of humor that should be in all sports movies.


Friday Night Lights

By Michael Masilungan
16, Daniel Murphy Catholic HS

Realistic, exciting game scenes and a team to root for are the most important things in a great sports movie. Friday Night Lights has them.

Based on a best-selling book by H.G. Bissinger and inspired by a true story, Friday Night Lights follows the 1988 Permian High School football team.

The movie shows how the people of Texas treat football like a religion, going to a football game is part of their ritual. The people in Odessa even treat the players like professionals. They talk about them all over town, wear their jerseys, give the players gifts and stop whatever they’re doing to attend the games. After a loss, these fans viciously attack the coach (played by Billy Bob Thornton) on the radio and even call for his firing.

Lucas Black is touching and sympathetic as the quarterback who handles the pressure of carrying the team to a championship while caring for his ailing mother. Derek Luke is magnificent playing Boobie Miles, the most popular and best player on the team, who is being recruited by big-time colleges while handling himself with bravado and confidence.

The football games were so electrifying that it seemed like I was watching actual games.

Friday Night Lights does teach a valuable lesson—it doesn’t matter if you win or lose in life, it matters if you tried and gave it your all to succeed.

Delivering big hits, great plays and many dramatic moments, Friday Night Lights is the movie to see for the ultimate football fan.


Mad Hot Ballroom

By Ankush Jindal
16, Palos Verdes Peninsula HS

Watching awkward New York City fifth graders become tiny masters of ballroom dancing’s sexy styles made me far more emotional than I expected. The documentary Mad Hot Ballroom follows three schools during a 10-week ballroom dancing course that ends in a nerve-wracking competition between many city schools.

After watching the kids learn only a few dance steps my eyes welled up from emotion and my hands stayed locked to me seat in anticipation for their success until the very end. I envied the little dancers. Some were still learning English while many of them had to deal with the pressures of coming from low-income families. But that didn’t stop them from learning how to tango, salsa, swing, slide and merengue. The kids, who were nervous around the opposite sex, learned the smooth dances traditionally done by mature dancers. I’ll never forget the words of a small boy with curly hair. “A girl and boy loving each other, you know, really loving each other and being together … It is very beautiful.”

Ballroom dancing, to me, is a sport in more ways than one. The competition between the schools taught the kids persistence and what it means to win or lose, just as any sport does. The dancing also entails hard physical aspects, as shown by the beads of sweat from the boy doing the Charleston.

I found myself screaming out the names of my favorite schools and biting my nails during the competition. Don’t be ashamed, if after watching this documentary you enroll in some mad hot ballroom dancing classes yourself, because I sure am!