Use the Gifts God Gives You
Release Date: August 22, 2008
Starring: Ice Cube, Keke Palmer, Tasha
Smith, Jill Marie Jones, Dash
Mihok, Miles Chandler, Matt
Craven, Garrett Morris, and
Genre: Sports Drama
Audience: Young teenagers to adults
Runtime: 95 minutes
Director: Fred Durst
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez and
Writer: Nick Santora and Doug Atchison
Address Comments To:Harry E. Sloan, Chairman/CEO
Clark Woods, President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution
MGM Studios Inc.
(Partially owned by Sony Corporation of America)
10250 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 900067
Phone: (310) 449-3000
Fax: (310) 449-8819
Based loosely on a true story, THE LONGSHOTS stars rap innovator and actor Ice Cube as Curtis Plummer, a former high school football star who now is unemployed in the down and out industrial town of Minden, Illinois. Curtis has been unemployed since the factory closed several years ago. He is also still depressed about his mother’s death two years before.
One day, his brother’s ex-wife asks Curtis to babysit her shy teenage daughter, Jasmine, after school because of the mom’s new hours at the diner where she works. Curtis is reluctant, but it’s the only job he can get at the moment.
At first, Curtis and Jasmine don’t get along. Jasmine, who has been terribly hurt by her father’s abandonment of the family, doesn’t think she needs a babysitter while Curtis feels out of place being a babysitter to a shy girl. Then, however, Curtis discovers that Jasmine has a pretty good arm on her. He thinks she can learn how to be a quarterback.
In the beginning, Jasmine just thinks of throwing the football with Curtis as something to pass the time, but then Curtis convinces her to try out for the local Pop Warner Football team full of boys from her middle school. Jasmine amazes everyone with her talent and the skills she’s learned from her uncle, and makes the team. The coach is reluctant to put her in a game, but his team is not doing very well. He finally puts Jasmine in the game, and the team starts winning.
Running at a sleek 95 minutes, THE LONGSHOTS gets right to the point of the story. The script fills out the main storyline with lots of supporting points and side characters that fit in perfectly with the main themes. And, it starts off with lots of humor. Finally, as the story goes along, the actors and the script pull the viewer in with plenty of heartfelt, exciting moments that are truly inspiring.
This is definitely one of Ice Cube’s best performances, if not his best one to date. Despite his grumpiness, he makes Curtis someone with whom the viewer can sympathize. Keke Palmer, as Jasmine, continues to be a revelation. She proves in THE LONGSHOTS that her excellent performance in AKEELAH AND THE BEE was not a fluke.
Although THE LONGSHOTS is not a Gospel-oriented movie but is a movie focused on a football team, it is clear that, with the factory gone, the church is now the main focus of the town. The preacher inspires the townspeople with two pep talks, and, when it comes time to get money to help the team go to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Miami, the church is the place where the donations are collected.
Thus, THE LONGSHOTS has a strong Christian worldview that makes strong moral points about self-respect, hard work and using the gifts God has given you. In fact, in his first pep talk, the preacher actually tells the congregation one Sunday that Jesus gave them a mind and a heart, so they should use them. And, that’s exactly what Curtis and Jasmine do to improve their lives.
This shows that there’s a deeper, very profound message to this little sports movie.
That said, it must be sadly noted that THE LONGSHOTS does contain some foul language, including two strong profanities (see our CONTENT section for details). There’s an antinomian, or lawless, aspect to the use of foul language. Although obscenities and profanities are “just words,” words do mean things. In fact, they can hurt people’s feelings and upset the purity of the innocent. Tolerance of foul language can support an antinomian worldview, which falsely says that Christians don’t need to obey all of God’s moral principles after they get saved.
Another problematic aspect to the movie is Jasmine’s relationship with her father. Her father returns for the last playoff game that might send Jasmine’s team to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Miami, but he shows later on that he really doesn’t care about her. This negative aspect is redeemed by a shot showing the white coach sharing a positive moment with his son on the team and by the uncle’s obvious support for his niece. In the Hebrew Scriptures, when a child’s father is absent, the uncle often is the person that becomes the father figure. This is what happens in THE LONGSHOTS.
The other problematic element is a sign outside the church in one shot that says, “God helps those who help themselves.” While it is true that God helps those who help themselves, it is also true that God can help those who can’t help themselves. In fact, that is the actual message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells us that sinful man is unable to save himself and cannot get to God on his own power, but needs Jesus Christ to redeem his heart, enlighten his mind and empower him to overcome his sins.
Because of the foul language, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends caution for older children.
Reportedly, the real Jasmine Plummer is now playing girls basketball. She still likes football but hopes one day to play for the WNBA if she can.
THE LONGSHOTS is another in a long line of well-made, inspiring and relatively family-friendly sports movies from Hollywood. This one is not only inspiring and exciting, it also has plenty of funny moments. It is certainly one of the most entertaining, best acted and most heartfelt movies of the year. THE LONGSHOTS has a strong Christian worldview with positive moral elements, but it contains some foul language and minor elements requiring caution for older children.