Kick your life in a new direction.
Sara (Leah Pipes, Pixel Perfect) is a soccer star at her high school, with a chance to make it to the National Development Team, which could lead to World Cup trophies and Olympic gold. When it looks like she won’t make the team, Sara is heartbroken, but her interests start to turn to her schoolwork, dance lessons, and romancing Josh (Drew Tyler Bell, Jeepers Creepers II), a brooding yearbook photographer. But then, there’s another possibility that Sara could make the national team, and suddenly she must question her priorities. Is life on the soccer field really the life for her?
Do you think your life is busy? Her Best Move serves as a look at just how busy today’s youth are. Sara is not only training around the clock to become a professional athlete, but she also has homework, dance lessons, a part time job at an ice cream place, separated parents, a best friend, and a potential boyfriend in the works. A good chunk of the movie takes place during a single Saturday, in which Sara tries to juggle all her scheduled practices and appointments while also making time to have her first date with Josh. It ends up being almost too much for her to bear as she hurries from place to place.
Her Best Move is a comedy at heart, though, so Sara never has the nervous breakdown you’d think she would. The humor here is a kind, gentle, type, with no juvenile gross-outs or self-aware pop culture references. For example, Sara’s mom slyly sneaks some ice cream into Sara’s otherwise tasteless protein shakes. Also Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids fame has a few slapstick comic relief moments as a nerdy friend of Sara’s. So even though this isn’t an outrageous, over-the-top comedy, there are some chuckles here and there.
The story here is engaging enough, and the characters and performances are certainly likeable, but I was still left with the overall feeling that something was missing. Perhaps it’s just that the movie doesn’t really push the envelope in any real ways. We’ve seen stories like this before, and although it’s well told, it’s also familiar. The ups and downs of Sara’s romance with Josh are played out with right amounts of kisses and/or tears, but, at the same time, we’ve seen dozens of similar romance plots in movies, so we already know how the various complications and resolutions will play out before they happen.
Fortunately, the movie really shines when it makes with the soccer action. Sara and all the other girls have a seemingly endless supply of cool moves to make during the game. See them sneak the ball around opponents, fake out goalies, and do this thing where they do a 360 degree spin around the ball while running with it. Even though the comedy is only sort of funny, and the romance is only sort of heartfelt, and the dramatics are only sort of emotional, I still found myself caught up in what was happening, especially during the big game at the finale. That’s because the sport is so well filmed and well choreographed you can’t help but sit forward in your seat and wonder how it will all end.
Parents of young kids will no doubt have a sigh of relief about this film, as there’s no swearing, no sex, no drinking, no drugs, and generally no lewdness to be found. Some viewers might find this too bland when compared to other teen comedies out there, but I believe this inoffensive tone is intentional on the filmmakers’ parts. Never once did I think the movie was so far separated from reality that it needed to show the kids having sex or experimenting with drugs.
I enjoyed the movie the most part, but it did feature one glaring nit-pick that has stunk up quite a few teen comedies in recent years. There’s some attempt to make Sara an “ugly duckling” type, when some boys make fun of her for being ugly when compared to the miniskirt-wearing, non-soccer-playing girls at school. Apparently, these boys didn’t get the memo that Sara is played by Leah Pipes, who’s just as gorgeous in a soccer uniform as she is in a prom dress. Anyway, there’s that predictable moment later on, when Sara gets dolled up for the dance, and those same boys don’t even recognize her, even though she looked the same to my eyes, except for a slightly different hairstyle and some glossier-than-usual lipstick. Yeah, I know, it’s a girl’s fantasy to walk through the door at a function and wow everyone as the really pretty princess type, but in this film it feels just a little too forced. Thankfully, it doesn’t last that long, and Sara is back on the soccer field making with the eye-popping lightning-fast moves.
Although it was obviously made with a low budget (the crowd at the big championship game looks like about 15 people total), the DVD transfer is a nice one, with bright colors and deep, solid blacks. The 5.1 sound is similarly nice, especially when the occasional pop song or weepy ballad kicks in. The official trailer is it for extras, which is too bad, since it would have been nice to hear from the creators and actors about the origins and production of the film.
Her Best Move is light, harmless fluff. It doesn’t reinvent the art of filmmaking, but there is some fun to be had here.