Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

The Winning Season - Review

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winningseasonposter.jpgI want you to see this movie On Demand to witness the most underrated actor in all of the world, Sam Rockwell.  That way, he won't have to make another movie like this ever again.

In A League Of Their Own meets Hoosiers, Rockwell plays Bill - a washed up formerly successful boys high school basketball coach and legend who burned out, started drinking, and finds himself divorced and working as a busboy.  However, his buddy, Terry (Rob Corddry), knows Bill is a basketball genius, and hires him to coach the local girls high school basketball team (yep, they are a female version of The Bad News Bears).

Can Bill get it together and lead this ragtag motley crew to glory?

Although it is full of talented actors, The Winning Season suffers from routine material and writer/director James C. Strouse's inability to define a consistent tone.  Sometimes, The Winning Season is a goofy, wacky movie with an outrageous lead actor and the team saying inappropriate stuff and making us laugh.  At other times, and without the needed transition to soften the blow, it's a melodramatic story about a man who desperately wants to be back in his daughter's life and needs to control his demons and his past.  

Rockwell even gets a decent supporting cast, if they had better material.  Rooney "the American Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" Mara does what she can as the young girl messing around with an older guy, but you know there is more of a story there than Strouse wants to explore.  
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Emma "My Aunt is Julia" Roberts is the leader of the team who needs to learn to appreciate herself instead of sticking with a relationship where the boyfriend does not treat her and value her correctly.  

However, it's Rockwell who is the superstar if you measured that in talent instead of name identity and prettiness.  He adds a depth to Bill that isn't on the pages of the script as you look into those world weary, beaten eyes.  Then, he slowly comes to life as he embraces his new opportunity and sees that someone wants him in their life.  In this case, 5 girls who want to succeed and know he can lead them there, even if his methods are unusual (it wouldn't be a movie if the methods weren't unusual). 

Even with its overly familiar stories, The Winning Season can entertain you if you focus on the good.  Let's hope Rockwell gets some better roles because he deserves them, and Roberts and Mara learned something from him to make them even better actors.

The Winning Season
is in very limited release, but available everywhere via cable and satellite dish On Demand movie services. 

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2 Waffles (Out of 4)

The Winning Season is rated  PG-13 for some thematic elements, language including some sexual references, alcohol abuse and smoking.