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Her Best Move (A Movie Review)

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Her Best Move


Starring Leah Pipes, Scott Patterson, Lisa Darr, Drew Tyler Bell, Lalaine, Daryl Sabara, Jhoanna Flores, Fay Masterson, Denise Dowse, Dave Abrams, Louis Martin Braga III, Todd Brotze, Devon Graye, Christopher Meehan and Julio Oscar Mechoso.

Screenplay by Norm Hunter and Tony Vidal.

Directed by Norm Hunter.

Distributed by MGM Home Entertainment.  101 minutes.  Rated G.

There is nothing in Her Best Move which you haven’t seen before.  Take a dollop of Bend It Like Beckham, add a pinch of She’s the Man, a cup of Gracie and a dash of the Blake Lively section of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – and then you’d still only be touching on the girl-playing-soccer parts of this movie.  There is also the overbearing dad as a coach, the cute, arty boy who has a crush on our heroine but is too shy to say it and that beloved old standby of no one realizing how pretty the obviously adorable girl is until she gets a makeover for the big dance.

Okay, Her Best Move is not at all original.  That does not necessarily mean it is not good.

Or even good may not be exactly the right term.  Her Best Move is very good for its audience.  If you’re a ten to fifteen-year-old girl, you will love it.  If you’re older… or a man… it’ll be more of a underwhelming experience.

Leah Pipes plays Sara, a young, slightly tomboyish girl who has been taught to be a soccer star since she was a little girl by her dad, who is a coach.   At this point, she does not even seem to have her heart totally in soccer, however she is nearly killing herself to become the youngest girl to join the US Soccer team.  She is just doing it to spend time with her dad, who is such a workaholic that he has taken to sleeping in the office.

Sara nearly constantly refers to herself as a loser (and there are several scenes that show she is not the only one in the school who feels that way).  Of course, this is a typical Hollywood fantasy, because the “loser” is quite obviously adorable, but the movie tries to convince us that no one takes the time to notice.

They don’t even fall back on the cliché of clunky glasses to mask her cuteness, which makes it even harder to understand why she is such a pariah in the school.  She’s cute, funny, likable and a star athlete – there should be guys stalking her in the halls, rather than her being mocked by nerdy boys as she sits in the cafeteria with her quirky (and only slightly less pretty) best friend.

Her dad is played by Scott Patterson, who is best known as Luke, diner owner and Lorelei’s on-again, off-again love interest in Gilmore Girls.  Patterson does just fine in a slightly clichéd and inscrutable part.  We’ve all seen the dad who puts sports before family many times before, there is not all that much new he can add to the role.

However, Patterson does add a bit of professionalism and gravitas to the cast.  In fact, Patterson is the only actor I recognized here, with the exception of a bit part by long-time character actor Julio Oscar Mechoso as the jovial, family-oriented father of Sara’s bitchy top competitor for the soccer team spot.

Eventually, Sara falls into deep like (after all, this movie is rated G!) with the hunky, outcast, arty new kid in school (Drew Tyler Bell.)  They are obviously MFEO (“meant for each other” in the speak of these characters) though some ridiculous roadblocks are thrown up keeping these kids from making out seriously – mostly caused by Regina (Jhoanna Flores), the other girl who is after the soccer spot.

This film’s simplistic world view is shown in the fact that these two girls go from mortal enemies to respectful close friends in the course of one short conversation.

However, the target audience of Her Best Move is not looking for deep emotional payoffs.  It’s looking for cute girls, hunky guys, some sanitized teen angst and eventually true love.  That, in a nutshell, is Her Best Move.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2008  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 8, 2008.

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