(Sports drama, PG-13, 105 minutes)
Family films seem to be few and far in between these days with blockbusters taking over the box office. If you are looking for a low-key film that is appropriate for the entire family, see “Crooked Arrows,” which opened Friday.
In the year 1200, a Native American tribe made the forest their playing field in a game involved a medicine ball and nets. They didn’t keep score. Their purpose was to “please The Creator.”
In present-day New York, their descendants continue the game, only this time for state championships. The high school lacrosse team members are Senequots. They speak the language and continue their ancestors’ traditions — that is, all but one person.
Instead of honoring it, Joe Logan (Brandon Routh) has capitalized on the culture by running a casino. From the feathered headbands to the names of the games, the business thrives while making a mockery his ancestry. Joe is of mixed blood — his father, Ben (Gil Birmingham), is a full-blooded Senequot and his late mother is white — but his career choices disappoint his family and his people.
But that’s no matter to Joe’s boss, Mr. Geyer (Tom Kemp). A business deal is in the works, involving casino’s expansion. Although the Senequots will lose land, it will make room for a new hospital, which is sorely needed, as well as boost the local economy.
Mr. Geyer tells Joe to work with “his people” to make the deal happen. A council understands the implications for the deal, but Ben wants Joe to reconnect and re-examine his spirit.
The wager? Coaching the lacrosse team, which seems to be on a perpetual losing streak. Joe is a former state champion, so he’s cut out for the job.
The only problem is, he could care less. He is cocky, focusing only on the money from the deal. He is also harboring some secrets and fears. However, with his job on the line and the future of the land at stake, he reluctantly takes the field.
The film is factually correct in that lacrosse has Native American origins. This is a sports film, but it also blends the history of the people. Joe seeks spiritual counsel from Crooked Arrow (Dennis Ambritz), who inspires him and the team with his knowledge of Senequot symbolism and history.
The games have a football-like fervor. The Senequots are not wealthy people and are reminded of this when they play against privileged students at prep schools with access to better equipment and fields.
However, lacrosse more than a sport for the Senequots. It’s a reminder of their ancestors. Even with a losing team, they continue to hold the game in high regard, no matter the opponent.
You don’t have to be a lacrosse fan to like this movie. It’s better than you might expect for a film lacking mainstream celebrities and special effects. Lacrosse pros such as Paul Rabil, Zack Greer and Brodie Merrill have small cameos. It’s a fun film with a good message — rare these days, but always welcome.
“Crooked Arrows” is playing at AMC Barrett Commons and Regal 22 Austell. For more information, visit www.crookedarrows.com.