ometown Legend" takes place in the small town
of Athens, Alabama, where the only thing more important than mom, apple pie, and
God is football. After a star football player, and the team's coach's son, dies
during a game, the town of Athens loses its luster. Twelve years later, the town
is going downhill fast, and the only thing bringing in newcomers is an annual
scholarship to the state college given to one member of the football team in
memory of the dead football player.
The promise of the scholarship draws all manner of
outsiders to town, including Elvis Jackson (Nick Cornish), a hotshot football
player and orphan with dreams of finally making something of himself. Just in
time for Elvis' arrival is the celebrated return of legendary football coach
Buster Schuler (Terry O'Quinn), who had quit 12 years ago after his son's death.
Now determined to give the town one last swan song, Schuler attempts to mold
Elvis and the rest of the town's rag tag team into a formidable force. Of course
Schuler's job might be a lot easier if the players weren't always trying to kill
"Hometown Legend" looks like it has a decent
budget, and the film has the feel of a Christian movie. Which isn't to say
"Legend" is a preachy film, because it's not. If anything, it's a
Sports Movie through and through, complete with all the usual conventions,
including: the coach looking for redemption for a past sin, the star football
player who can't get along with anyone because he can't learn to trust himself,
and the antagonistic football player that our hero attempts to replace. Although
"Legend" offers up a bit of a shocker in its closing Big Game, anyone
who has seen any number of Sports Movie will be able to guess where most of
"Legend" is going before it even gets there.
Lacey Chabert, formerly of TV's "Party of Five",
co-stars as Rachel Sawyer, one of many local girls assigned as "prayer
helpers" (or something along that line) for the football players. I guess
their job is to pray for the players, assist them, that sort of them. Although
one of the girls takes it a bit, ahem, further. Looking like the spitting image
of her former TV co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt ("The
Tuxedo"), Chabert acquits herself nicely and her burgeoning romance
with star Nick Cornish (last seen pretending to hack computers in "Code
Hunter") is believable and endearing.
It goes without saying that parents need not worry about
premarital sex between the two leads. Actually, I didn't even see a kiss until
the very end, so there you go. There are some mentions of God, but unless you
are completely paranoid or have a God issue, the few mentions of the Lord won't
offend anyone. The movie doesn't preach, unless you consider its lessons about
traditions to be preachy, in which case you need to get out of the big cities
because you're royally screwed up.
Perhaps a bit too predictable for its own good (predictably
so, natch), "Hometown Legend" is nevertheless entertaining. Veteran
Terry O'Quinn makes one terrific football coach, although I have to admit that
if a man put his foot on my head I would be forced to cut off that foot and
shove it down his throat. Then again, that's just me.