It’s a modern-day twist on the classic cowboys and Indians tale. But in the feel-good sports movie, Crooked Arrows, the battle between the so-called good and bad guys takes place on a lacrosse field in upstate New York, miles removed from the Wild West.
Crooked Arrows falls into the same oeuvre as The Mighty Ducks or Bad News Bears. In other words, it’s an underdog-comes-from-behind sports film about a scrappy, but ineffective team of Native Americans who are constantly getting their butts kicked by teams of preppy jocks from Ivy League schools.
Crammed with every imaginable cliché – a bald eagle circles constantly in the clear, blue sky; there is a wise, widowed dad; a gorgeous schoolteacher and former flame; and the dashing, wayward son who has lost touch with his ancestral roots – it’s an entirely predictable script that chugs along to the foregone loser-beats-odds conclusion.
Joe Logan, played by Superman Returns alumnus Brandon Routh, is a former lacrosse whiz who used to play for the state’s reigning prep-school champions, Coventry. Now he’s a flashy, Audi-driving businessman who’s made big bucks operating his reservation’s sole casino. He wants to expand and needs access to tribe-owned land. But before council gives the green light, Logan has to take over coaching the Crooked Arrows, an undisciplined group of friends who view practice – and the game of lacrosse, a Native American invention – as something of a joke.
The team is wary of Logan. He’s more interested in his Blackberry than them. But as straight as that omnipresent eagle flies, Logan soon sees the error of his way, gets back in touch with his spiritual roots. He works the team hard, whips them back into shape, and the Crooked Arrows start giving Coventry and the rest of the frat boys a run for their money.
The dialogue, at times, is enough to make one wince. “When did the Indians start playing lacrosse?” asks one dimwit at a game. “Hey Rolling Stone, what’s up?” Logan enquires of one of his players. “It’s Rolling Wind.” Coach gets a baleful glare.
And while there are some plausible performances (the wise-cracking grandma isn’t bad), the overall film lacks heart. Routh, who is part Native American, is believable as a former athlete, but his delivery is often wooden and stiff, lacking the fire you’d expect from a guy with something to prove. The players – all of whom are real Native American lacrosse players – are hugely skilled and great to watch in action, but, in the scenes requiring some emotive sizzle off the field, there’s a lack of emotion and spontaneity.
Crooked Arrows is no Rocky. It lacks the emotional momentum required for that. But if it’s just light, family-friendly entertainment you want, Crooked Arrows fits the bill.
- Directed by Steve Rash
- Written by Brad Riddell and Todd Baird
- Starring Brandon Routh
- Classification: PG