The Longshots

Evolution: the process by which one grows and transforms into a more complete and mature individual. No, that’s not Webster’s definition, rather that’s my own interpretation of the word – and by my definition O’Shea Jackson has evolved. You might know Mr. Jackson by another name: Ice Cube. The one time “gangsta rapper,” and star of the seminal flick Boyz n the Hood has evolved into a kid-friendly box office draw. Who would think “Doughboy” would be coaching a little girl in Pop Warner Football? That’s just what he does in The Longshots, an inspiring movie based on the true story of a little girl with one helluva arm.

Cube (Are We There Yet?) is Curtis Plummer, an unemployed former high school football star who walks around the small town of Minden with a football in one hand and a beer in the other. When his brother’s ex asks him to baby-sit his niece Jasmine (Keke Palmer of Akeelah and the Bee) after school for a few hours each day, he can’t think of anything he’d hate more. The feeling is mutual, as Jasmine would rather be left to her own devices. She’s a shy girl who gets teased frequently, but finds solace in science fiction books. The first few times uncle and niece hang out are strained at best. Curtis has a warm heart underneath his gruff exterior, and Jasmine longs for a father figure to replace Curtis’ absentee brother – but they have to realize that they need each other. Eventually the two let their guards down, especially after Jasmine reluctantly begins to toss the pigskin around with her uncle. Curtis convinces her to try out for the school’s football team, after seeing that she’s a special talent. She’s a natural, easily outperforming the starting quarterback while leading the team to the Pop Warner Superbowl. Throughout the course of the movie Jasmine and Curtis’ relationship grows into one characterized by love and pride. She becomes more confident, and Curtis’ life takes on a new purpose. There’s also a good bit of info about the fundamentals of football, which helps the believability factor. The movie does a good job of illustrating how organized sports builds self-esteem and serves as a positive outlet for young people. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I recommend you take your kid or little brother/sister to check this movie out. It’s heartwarming without being totally corny. Sure, it’s a little cheesy – but most sports movie are, to some extent. Plus, the movie is based on a true story, so although a female quarterback may seem far-fetched – it can actually happen. The movie will put a smile on your face, so what more could you ask for?

This article first appeared on Poptimal and can be found at http://poptimal.com/2008/08/the-longshots-oshea-is-okay/ . The article was reprinted with permission.

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