Monday, March 8, 2010

Movie with Abe: Toe to Toe

Toe to Toe
Directed by Emily Abt
Released February 26, 2010

After the same core story is told over and over in assorted variations and iterations, it begins to lose some of its impact. A revealing look at two teenagers with nothing in common who come together as a result of an unexpected share passion can only reveal so much before the trail has already been adequately covered. Treading the same ground with only slighted altered versions of the same archetype doesn’t automatically make the new take interesting or worthwhile. Those that imitate but don’t go above and beyond what came before risk fading into oblivion in the realm of the hundreds of film released each year.

“Toe to Toe” is the tale of two girls from different sides of the track who are united by their talent for playing lacrosse. Jesse is a rich white girl who has essentially been raised by her nanny due to her traveling workaholic mother’s busy schedule. Tosha is a black girl who comes from a bad neighborhood but has the drive to succeed so that she can get a scholarship to Princeton and leave the memories of her destitute world behind. They are brought together by lacrosse, but like last year’s “The Blind Side,” this is a sports movie that fails to adequately play up the love for the sport itself and therefore remains painfully ordinary.

It’s not a terribly original story, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still resonate and have some meaning, even if it’s diminished considerably. These are two characters who, despite fitting very broadly and loosely defined caricatures that hardly make them unique, are living their own individual lives. The intersection of their stories creates an interesting dynamic that, above all, showcases the strong performances of young actresses Louisa Krause and Sonequa Martin, both of who have a limited professional resume and deliver admirably. They should not be penalized if the characters written for them are not as three-dimensional as their portrayals.

There’s little more to say about “Toe to Toe” than to emphasize the fact that this is a familiar story which could have been more meaningful and effective if it had made use of more creative filmic and storytelling devices. There’s nothing to distinguish this particular tale and these specific characters from any such personages in a similar film. It isn’t a bad film, but it’s certainly not a terribly good one either. Expect more from these young and talented actresses in the future, but don’t spend too much time on this movie.


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