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Reviewer's grade: B-

As underdog sports flicks go, "Gracie" is earnest, well-acted and occasionally rousing. Those are all commendable attributes, but they don't completely make up for the fact that it's an underdog sports flick, and therefore, subject to that genre's wheezy predictability. Still, the film is more heartfelt than most; that heart-on-the-sleeve aesthetic pushes it beyond its formulaic conventions.


Based on the real-life experiences of actress Elisabeth Shue (who co-produced the movie along with brother Andrew Shue, both of whom appear), "Gracie" stars Carly Schroeder as a 15-year-old tomboy old living in New Jersey circa 1978. After the tragic death of her brother, Gracie resolves she will follow his footsteps and play on the varsity soccer team, but her pursuit is met with derision by everyone, especially her stubborn dad.


Director Davis Guggenheim keeps the storytelling tight and the pace galloping, with Schroder and Mulroney outstanding as daughter and father. If only "Gracie" weren't built on a checklist of sports-picture clich


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