Ice Cube teams up with fellow rapper turned director Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit), and continues his transition to family films with The Longshots, inspired by the true story of Jasmine Plummer and how she became the first female quarterback in Pop Warner football. I say inspired by because a lot of liberties have been taken with the story (evidenced in the special features included on this disc). For example, the story takes place in a different town and Ice Cube’s character is a fictional amalgamation.
Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee), in another strong performance, plays Jasmine, a 13-year old depressed loner and bookworm, trying to deal with high school and not having a father figure. In steps her uncle, Curtis, played by Ice Cube, an unemployed drunkard and former Pop Warner star. The two are forced by Jasmine’s single mother to spend after school hours while she works extra houts at the town diner. Eventually, they find a connection with football, and Curtis begins to coach Jasmine on quarterbacking. When he sees how good her arm is, and how badly the town’s Pop Warner team needs a quarterback, Curtis persuades the team’s coach, played by Matt Craven, to give her a tryout. Jasmine makes the team but does not get her chance to play until the coach is again persuaded by Curtis to put her in after the team faces a blowout loss. Of course, as in most sports movies, the team begins to excel and helps bring some pride back to the town. The Longshots features fine performances by Ice Cube, Keke Palmer, and Matt Craven, as well as Tasha King as Jasmine’s mother and SNL alum Garrett Morris as the town’s reverend. Simply put, this is an above average family film.
Video: out of
Genius brings The Longshots to Blu-ray in a 1080p transfer utilizing the AVC codec. The movie has a somewhat soft look to it, perhaps due to the film’s low budget. Director of Photography Conrad W. Hall, much like his father, appears to have used existing light, and Production Designer Charles Breen uses a color palette consisting mostly of browns and oranges, together giving the colors a muted look. Compression artifacts and noise were virtually non-existent.
Audio: out of
The Longshots is graced with both Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital (at 40 kbps) soundtracks, which baffles me when the Dolby TrueHD contains a backwards compatible “core” soundtrack (also encoded at 640 kbps). Since my home theater system is incapable of Dolby TrueHD playback, I will focus on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which sounds identical to the Dolby TrueHD core. Dialogue is intelligible, and the LFE channel does get a nice workout during the tackle hits and the percussion of Teddy Castellucci’s score. Surrounds are used sparingly, mostly for atmosphere (especially during the Pop Warner Super Bowl game) and music.
Special Features: out of
The special features on this disc are just short of a first down, unfortunately, and all are in standard definition, with the exception of the theatrical trailer. Most of the featurettes fall short of having anything interesting to say.
- Deleted Scenes: Consisting of almost 20 minutes of 13 scenes, all appear to have been cut for pacing and running time, as they add nothing substantial to the story. All are in non-anamorphic standard definition.
- Making The Longshots is a typical EPK piece where everyone says how great it was to be in this movie and what a great story it is. Running time is 8 minutes, in anamorphic widescreen.
- A Conversation With Ice Cube: Ice Cube discusses how he got involved with the film, and what the movie is about. Running time is almost 6 minutes, in anamorphic widescreen.
- A Conversation With Director Fred Durst: Running over 7 minutes, Fred Durst discusses why he wanted to direct this film and work with Ice Cube. In anamorphic widescreen.
- Jasmine Plummer: The Real Longshot: In almost 7 minutes, it is here we learn loosely based this movie really is, which I found ironic since Jasmine’s real uncle talks about how the family turned down several movie offers for not being faithful to the real story. In anamorphic widescreen.
- Theatrical Trailer: Obviously edited before the digital intermediate was completed (the color timing here is much brighter and colorful), the trailer is presented in high definition and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround.
An above average family film with fine performances, presented with an above average video transfer and a decent sound mix, but somewhat lacking in what could have been more interesting featurettes.
Reviewed on the following home theater gear:
- Toshiba 56HM66 DLP HDTV
- Sony Playstation 3 (outputting to 1080i)
- Yamaha HTR-5940 Home Theater Receiver (in 5.1 configuration)
- Yamaha NS-AP2600 Home Cinema Speaker Package
- Yamaha YST-SW010 subwoofer