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Hometown Legend: faith & football

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Though it premieres during baseball season, “Hometown Legend” is a football film. This Christian-based movie, now showing in secular theatres, is based on a novel written by Jerry Jenkins, coauthor of the “Left Behind” series. Jenkins and his son, Dallas, also produced the movie.

Hometown Legend is set in Athens, Ala., and focuses on its legendary high school football team. Led by coach Buster Schuler (Terry O’Quinn), the team starts to fall apart after an accident forces him to retire from coaching. After 12 years, the high school is on the verge of being closed because of financial difficulties.

Through prayer, high school student Rachel Sawyer (Lacey Chabert) helps create hope for the dying institution, which leads the plot toward a hometown miracle. Contributing to the miracle is the new kid, Elvis Jackson (Nick Cornish) who drifted into town from foster home to foster home in hopes of finding a free ride to college through a football scholarship.

Coach Schuler returns to the high school for one last season in hopes of leading the team to a championship, but he also tries to heal the deep divisions that have torn the school apart. With the football prowess of the new kid, the prayers of a high school girl and persistence of the legendary coach, the team learns the true meaning of working together.

Among positive reviews the movie has received:

— Crosswalk.com’s Holly McClure notes, “This is a thoughtful character-driven story about a town’s last hope for survival. The movie focuses on the game of football and personal rivalries, while emphasizing the sacrifice of individual goals for the sake of the community. I enjoyed the story, the spirit and the message of this movie.”

— Chris Hewitt of Knight Ridder News writes, “Hometown Legend adds a spiritual element to this oft-told story, since many of the players and fans are inspired by God and by the memory of their team’s faded glory days. Hometown Legend is sensitively written and sharply acted.”

— Tom Snyder, from Ted Baehr’s Movieguide, declares, “Hometown Legend must be seen! It will win the hearts and minds of everyone in the audience.”

— Tammy Leytham of the Foley Onlooker on the Internet says, “Take a teen film, remove all the profanity, sex, bathroom jokes, drinking and drug use; add some soul and the fervor of Friday night football and what do you have? Hometown Legend, an independent film that is simple, pure, and yet, proves to be entertaining.”

— Lawrence Specker of the Mobile Register writes, “Hometown Legend exceeds every expectation … it has a playbook that Hollywood ought to consider stealing.”

Apart from the positive reviews, however, is one from Nicole Duclos of citypages.com. “The movie would be easy to dismiss as a mindless appeal to old-school American idealism if it weren’t so insidiously offensive,” Duclos writes. “Time and again (and again), Schuler is quick to share his racist and homophobic beliefs, as well as to warn against the ‘curse of individualism’ that threatens not only his team but the audience and, by extension, the American people as a whole. Good thing he has the Almighty to back him up.”

The Christian-based rock band Jars of Clay contributed to the Hometown Legend soundtrack. “I’ve been a huge fan of Jars of Clay for years,” said the film’s producer, 25-year-old Dallas Jenkins, “and it’s long been a dream of mine to work with Dan Haseltine on a project. The score, as well as the songs he put together, are even better than we had hoped for.”

The film is rated PG, which is discussed at length at the Focus on the Family film reviews website, www.family.org/pplace/pi/films.

The Focus on the Family review describes Hometown Legend as “a film the entire family can view together. Just don’t leave out the requisite family chat about the film’s pros and cons afterwards.”

Distributed by Warner Brothers, the movie is directed by James Anderson and stars Terry O’Quinn, Lacey Chabert, Nick Cornish, Kirk B.R. Wohler, Ian Bowen and Mary Pat Gleason.
Kaylan Christopher is a student at Ouachita Baptist University and an intern with Pastors.com.

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