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The Winning Season

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Forget AA; according to the movies, there’s no better cure for alcoholism or depression than good ol’ precollegiate athletic coaching. Riffing on everything from The Bad News Bears to Hoosiers, writer-director James C. Strouse (Grace Is Gone) milks mild comedy and moderate pathos out of a down-on-his-luck retread named Bill (Rockwell), who’s recruited to whip Indiana high-school misfits into a respectable girls’ basketball team. He’s the sort of sideline screamer who emulates Bobby Knight’s ill temper, nurses dashed dreams and awkwardly connects with his players while his own teenaged daughter threatens him with a restraining order.

Excepting unique fits like last year’s Moon, Rockwell is the sort of actor who seems better suited to stealing movies from the periphery rather than slouching or erupting at the center. Here, he’s in constant danger of being upstaged by his own bushy mustache, which is indicative of the film’s reliance on sight gags (see also Rob Corddry’s gung-ho principal in matching red jeans and T-shirt) and easy, un-PC punch lines (re: lesbians, liberals, Mexicans). Strouse’s heart is in the right place, but he never actually contradicts Bill’s assertion that nobody cares about women’s sports. The girls are worth rooting for, but their pursuit is secondary to one sorry-ass dude’s redemption. That’s a win?—Eric Hynes

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