Hometown Legend

By Lynda Dale MacLean,
The triumphs and sorrows of a town--and the Legend behind it.<BR><BR>
Author Rating: 
4.0 Stars - Very Good

Jerry B. Jenkins' "Hometown Legend" has a storyline as wholesome as applepie -- and I love apple pie! I think it's great when a movie can touchyour heart and leave you with a positive feeling after watching it.Religion has a voice in this movie, but the voice doesn't preach. It's moreabout the courage and unity of a kindred town trying to stay on solidground. Beautifully filmed and directed, this movie takes you into theheart of Athens, Alabama and makes you feel welcomed. Athens, Alabama is asmall town that loves its football and religion, proving themselves strongwith many wins over the years. This small town has put themselves on themap of football stardom through the legendary talent of coach BusterSchuler (Terry O' Quinn).

Coach Buster Schuler has brought respect, honor, and 16 championship titlesto his hometown. On the night of another big game where magic was to strikeonce again, tragedy took its place instead and hit too close to home. In afreakish play of events, the coach's son was killed in the final moments ofthe game. The coach retired the next day and the town that once knew glorywas now slowly dying. Twelve years have passed and the small town isnearing its final days. Economy has been failing and the school will soonhave to closed down. Coach Buster comes out of retirement for one lasthurrah in what's to be the last season of football for the town on thatfamous green. Elvis Jackson (Nick Cornish) is a smart, talented, butrough-around-the-edges student who comes to the small town in hopes of ascholarship, which the town has set up in memory of the coach's son -- ascholarship that the coach does not support.

Also vying for that scholarship is Ian Bohen (Brian Schuler), who happensto be the coach's nephew (but don't jump to conclusions yet). The coach ispretty tough and expects the best performance from every player. ShermanNaters (Mark McLachlan) befriends Elvis by giving him a shot at cleaning uphis mother's restaurant at night. Sherman also has quite the personality;he's a hoot at being the class clown! Rachel Sawyer (Lacey Chabert) is thetown's cheerleader, so to speak. When she sets her mind on something,she'll go full speed ahead to try an accomplish even the hardest of feats.Rachel prays for some sign above to help with her struggling small town.Rachel even tries to get the town to use the scholarship money to help withthe town's financial problems, unaware that Elvis' main reason for playingon the team is to get a free ride to college. A romance is also blossomingbetween she and Elvis, but is it enough to keep them together with all theobstacles in front of them? Will the return of the coach, the spirit ofthe town, and the talent of this newcomer be enough to give the title backto Athens, Alabama and soften the hardship that has burdened the town overthe years?

Terry O' Quinn has heart, spunk, and his demeanor is so cool and slick. Hisportrayal of a tough, passionate coach is solid and dead-on heartbreaking.He has a marvelous gift of connecting to a character and pulling out allthe stops with it. Nick Cornish's performance is tantalizing. He's dropdead gorgeous, but it's his personality that's radiant to watch. He plays awonderful character who's driven, resourceful, and a genuinely nice andcaring person who wants to prove to himself and others that he's got whatit takes to make a team proud. I liked him in this role; he's a verytalented performer.

Lacey Chabert's performance is inspiring. She graces the screen with aninner strength that she holds onto throughout the movie. Never gave up onhope even when the chips are down. She presents herself with confidence,naturalness, and spunk. Mark McLachlan, another performer whose ability tobring emotion, humor, and believability to a role, did so with great easeand much talent. A standout cast and wonderful acting make this a winningmovie. There's a nice soundtrack for the film and it connects to the movievery well, most notable being Jars of Clay. Never give up the good fightand you'll always come out a winner, regardless of the final score.Hometown Legend is an uplifting movie that touches you with warmth,excitement, compassion, and spirituality. It's a feel-good movie thatdefinitely should not be missed -- it scored a touchdown in my book!

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