Movie Review

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The Big Green

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.

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Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (1)
Profanity: (1)
Violence: (1)
Fright: (3)

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"The Big Green" (PG) is about soccer, underdogs and hope. Although the story is not original, its messages are positive, and children will like it. When the new British teacher, Anna Montgomery (Olivia d'Abo), arrives at the Elma, Texas two-room school house, she finds a hostile group of students. They are neither motivated to learn, nor hopeful about their futures. After failing to get their attention in the traditional way, she tries something new. She teaches them soccer. Although the children are just learning to play, Anna urges them to play in a league against teams from the "big city." The town's sheriff, Tom Palmer (Steve Guttenberg), agrees to help Anna coach the team, named The Big Green, after the field where they play.

At their first game, The Big Green looks like a motley crew compared to their opponent, the Knights. The Big Green is composed of children of various sizes, shapes and sexes--none of whom own a uniform. The Knights, big boys with shiny uniforms, are led to an easy victory by their ruthless coach, Jay Huffer (Jay O. Sanders). The Big Green team is discouraged with the loss and with their lives. Two of best players have problems at home. Kate (Jessie Robertson) has divorced parents and an alcoholic father, while Juan's (Anthony Esquivel) mother is an illegal alien. Anna encourages the children to keep practicing and to focus on teamwork. When the children's parents get interested in the game, the team tries harder. As they begin to win, the whole town pulls together with civic pride to help the children reach toward the championship game against their old rival, the Knights.

"The Big Green" is about an underdog becoming a winner. It is a theme that has great appeal to children, for they relate to the "little guy." The film's message that hard work and persistence bring success, is one of hope--the American Dream. This dream is being destroyed for many of our youth. Messages like this in the media help parents to give their children a sense of optimism. This is also a film about competition in sports. Anna tells the children that team playing is more important than winning, while the Knights coach tells the boys to "go for the kill." In children's sports today, there still are parents and coaches who give the children the impression that winning is critical. That attitude is not helpful to kids. Children need to understand that they can reap great rewards from being part of a team, even though they may not win the game.

The girls in "The Big Green" are portrayed as equally good players as the boys. A little boy is given a chance to play, and he does well. A boy whose mother is an illegal alien is accepted by the other children, while she eventually applies for citizenship. All the children find acceptance and are given the chance to succeed. What a nice image for our child viewer. Although adults and adolescents will probably find "The Big Green" to be quite predictable, younger children will enjoy it and will benefit from its positive messages.

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