Aw, shucks!
Jun 18, 2021 1 min, 15 secs
Around the midpoint of the earnest, inspirational sports drama, "12 Mighty Orphans," Doc Hall (Martin Sheen) describes the orphans — a Depression-era Texas interscholastic high school football team — as, "the classic underdog story common folks could get behind." This line emphasizes everything that is both right and wrong with director Ty Roberts' wholly mediocre film.

"Inspired by true events," and based on the novel by Jim Dent, "12 Mighty Orphans" has Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson) arriving at the Masonic Home in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw), and their young daughter Betty (Josie Fink).

Rusty has come to teach math and science and coach football; Juanita will teach English and music.

However, "12 Mighty Orphans" hits its stride once the orphans get to play their first game.

That said, this is after Rusty takes care of getting the Masonic Team admitted into the league, and the cliched montages of the teens "learning" so they can pass the educational requirement to play, and their practicing, badly, on the field.

The game is a washout, but soon Rusty, with the help of his precocious daughter, Betty, develops an innovative new formation that starts to turn the team's fortune (and the film) around.

However, "12 Mighty Orphans" saves its biggest, emotional moment for a rousing halftime speech Hardy gives during an important game.

Luke Wilson is perfectly adequate in his role as Rusty, a man whose contributions to football are worth documenting.

"12 Mighty Orphans" is a feel-good football film.

"12 Mighty Orphans" opens nationwide on Friday, June 18.

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