Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2) stars as an adult misfit who is brought on to coach the local girls’ high school basketball team and, while he leads the girls to victories on the court, he discovers they have a lot to teach him as well. The film co-stars Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew), Rob Corddry (W), Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson) and Emily Rios (Quinceanera).
The Winning Season
is a charming drama-comedy that puts a fresh spin on a familiar story. The incomparable Sam Rockwell plays a coach who is battling his own personal demons as well as taking on the challenge of making a young, tattered girls' basketball team into a cohesive, talented group. The Winning Season
's charm comes from its very winsome cast, including Emma Roberts, Emily Rios, Rooney Mara, Shareeka Epps, and Connor Paolo--all steadily working young actors with lots of charisma. But Rockwell's Bill at first doesn't find a lot to be stoked about in his new assignment--he's a has-been with a drinking problem, and issues with his own daughter. Still, Rockwell saves the role from being a stereotype with his focus and emotion that barely seeps through his battered, tough exterior. And the young team members, especially Roberts, are the most endearing underdogs since The Bad News Bears
. Also worthy of mention is Margo Martindale, who plays Donna, the team's bus driver and Greek chorus of one, who is there for the girls as well as for Bill--and who plays coach to Bill as he tries to confront and wrestle his own demons. The Winning Season
covers some familiar territory--underdog sports team overcoming obstacle after obstacle--but thanks to its splendid cast, its high spirits sweep the viewer along for a wonderful feel-good ride. --A.T. Hurley