Opening June 1 in Los Angeles, Crooked Arrows is another small indie release I saw for an interview, this time with Brandon Routh. I’m also always open to giving an obscure film a shot, seeing if something interesting slipped through the system, and Crooked Arrows is actually pretty entertaining.
Routh plays Joe Logan, a slick businessman making a deal to expand his Indian casino on Native American land. His tribe only agrees to the deal if he coaches their high school lacrosse team, since he used to be a star player. Of course working with the team helps him get in touch with his heritage and learn what’s really important about the game and the culture. Business ethics invade the playoffs and he must learn a lesson in the third act.
So basically it’s The Mighty Ducks for lacrosse, and it works. Logan starts out half-assing it, showing up late in his slick car, texting on the sideline. It’s not laugh out loud funny like Emilio Estevez, but it’s modern. The players taunt Logan to show his skills. The community ultimately forces Logan to learn his heritage by bargaining their cooperation for Logan’s participation in culture. It’s an easy arc, but hell, at least there is a character arc. That feels like a luxury in this age of cinema. Routh nails this. He is really a good leading man.
The film looks great. It’s bright and sunny on the field. It has a good energy with the teens, and some Native American wisdom that applies to more than just sports. Some shots of an eagle flying overhead look fake, but it’s a metaphor, so maybe those are metaphorical special effects.
You know, they’ve never really done a lacrosse comedy. They played it in American Pie and it’s on the “Teen Wolf” show but this is the full on Major League treatment. The Native American angle is worthwhile too because talk about an underdog. They’re underdogs at American history, let alone sports.
Lacrosse is a really cinematic sport. It’s violent, brutal and graceful at the same time. The film opens with an Apocalypto style lacrosse game with the ancient tribes, which is a really nice touch. The evil coach from rival team Coventry really gets his Cobra Kai on in the extreme.
There are some heavy handed lines. In the casino someone says, “I’m down here” and Logan says, “Yeah, me too.” Because you see the gambler was only talking about his money, but Logan was talking about his emotions. And Logan also says, “I think I may have feathered the arrow for my enemy” but that’s paying up a line that was set up earlier.
Crooked Arrows won’t win points for originality, but it’s perfectly pleasant. It’s a feel good underdog story. Since Hollywood doesn’t seem to know how to do that anymore, let’s be glad some indies are filling the gap.