"Absorbing Life Lessons"
What You Need To Know:
TOUCHBACK is well shot, edited, and directed, with excellent acting by the whole cast. There are a couple minor plot problems, however. There’s also a lot of light foul language in TOUCHBACK. Finally, there’s a somewhat comical scene featuring nude skinny-dipping at night and some light innuendo. That said, TOUCHBACK imparts some strong, morally uplifting life lessons. However, it does so without reference to God or the Bible. Overall, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
(BB, H, LLL, V, S, A, M) Strong moral worldview overall with some positive lessons such as doing what’s right no matter the cost and helping others in need, but without any references to God or the Bible; about 25 mostly light obscenities (mostly “h” words but about four or five “d” words), one strong profanity mentioning the Savior’s first name, three light exclamatory profanities, and a couple light vulgarities; some football action, football players injures his leg, man hits a broken machine in anger, and man tries to commit suicide by stuffing his truck’s tailpipe; some light innuendo such as a vague invitation to make out that’s rejected; no nudity but a nude skinny dipping scene occurs, yet nothing salacious is really shown; beer drinking; no smoking or drugs; and, lying to avoid telling bad news, teenage girl calls another student a dork, and talk about jock protagonist’s mean pranks against nerds and the band room but he gets a chance to make amends for those bad actions.
TOUCHBACK is an excellent, rewarding sports drama, with fine acting and solid direction. However, it does have a lot of mostly light foul language. Also, there’s a minor Deus Ex Machina problem at the end of the third act that raises too many questions. The movie glides by that problem to present the movie’s final climax, which gives the movie a great “It’s a wonderful life” resolution.
The story in TOUCHBBACK focuses on Scott Murphy, a farmer and part-time firefighter in Coldwater, Ohio. In high school, Scott was on the brink of getting a major football scholarship from Ohio State. However, he badly injured his knee scoring the winning touchdown in the state championship against a much bigger high school team from Cleveland.
Fifteen years later, Scott is struggling to make his farm work and to feed his wife, Macy, and their two young daughters. Tragedy strikes in the form of a frost. The frost threatens Scott’s soybean crop. If he can’t harvest the beans that very day, he will lose his farm, which is on the brink of foreclosure. He gets the last harvesting machine available, but the machine breaks down.
Sadly, Scott decides the only way out is suicide, so that his family can collect the fireman insurance he has. He stuffs a rag in his old rusted truck’s tailpipe. As the deadly smoke fills the truck’s cab. Scott is suddenly thrust back to his high school days, the week before the big championship game. Scott figures he has a chance to change history, but if he changes history, he might just lose his future wife, Macy. Scott has some choices to make.
TOUCHBACK is one of those “change-your-destiny” movies in the vein of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It’s very well edited and directed, with excellent acting by the whole cast. The two leads who play Scott and Macy are ably supported by two veterans, Kurt Russell as Scott’s high school coach and Christine Lahti as Scott’s mother. As a result, TOUCHBACK is a very compelling and absorbing movie that holds the viewer’s attention throughout.
Of course, TOUCHBACK doesn’t reach the heights of emotional greatness of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but very few movies do that. The problem that stops it from being a four-star movie is a plot point that occurs in the third act. It involves the solution to how Scott returns to the present day intact, alive instead of dead. The solution the filmmakers create is an unexplained Deus Ex Machina device. Basically, it’s an unexpected, artificial solution to Scott’s situation. In fact, the scene plays as if a quirk of fate entered the story to save Scott from himself. This scene occurs right before the movie’s morally uplifting, touching ending, so it doesn’t really ruin the picture. So, many viewers may not notice it or be bothered by it.
There’s a lot of light foul language in TOUCHBACK. Also, there’s a somewhat comical scene featuring some nude skinny-dipping at night, though nothing salacious is shown. In a couple other scenes, Scott’s old flame in high school, a pretty cheerleader, makes a couple light innuendoes about making out with Scott. Finally, TOUCHBACK imparts some strong, morally uplifting life lessons. For instance, it shows other people helping a person in need. Also, Scott, the protagonist, learns to do the right thing, no matter what the cost. That said, these positive lessons occur without reference to God or the Bible. So, there’s no real solid foundation for the movie’s promotion of right over wrong. Overall, therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.