Sports / Family
2019 / 86 minutes
Cory Baily is an American teen science nerd whose next stop is a semester-long trip on a research ship departing from Sydney, Australia. But after arriving at the Sydney Airport, she boards the wrong school bus, and ends up on the wrong campus. Now instead of spending a term studying aquatic life, she’s at a soccer academy. And she’s never played before in her life.
Adults are going to be able to predict where this is going right from the get-go, but no worries mate, because they aren’t the target audience. And the pre-teens this is aimed at are going to enjoy Cory’s fish-out-of-water experience.
This is really just a light feel-good film, with Cory going from friendless to gaining a bunch of bosom buddies. There’s also a charming jock who doesn’t really get science, but can appreciate Cory’s passion. The Australian accents and scenery also add to the appeal.
There is a villain, of course, but even rich girl Edie isn’t all that nasty. She’s really just misunderstood, don’t you see?
The cautions here are mostly of the too-good-to-be-true nature of the story. Cory might have been a fish-out-of-water to start, but by film’s end, everything has turned up roses, and in every possible way. Adults will know this isn’t realistic, but the pre-teens might need a reminder that even as confidence can often be key, “believing in yourself” isn’t some kind of miraculous guarantee of victory.
Another concern is the budding romance between Cory and a very nice boy. While there’s just one peck on the lips exchanged (and another attempted kiss) Cory’s friends do a fair amount of “ooooh”ing to tease Cory. Sure, it’s funny, but parents may want to point out that it’s also just plain silly: these kids are too young to be thinking of marriage, so they don’t need to (and shouldn’t be trying to) contend with all the drama that comes with dating.
The other cautions include three instances of “Oh my gosh,” and a beach scene in which two boys are shirtless (though in long shorts).
Back of the Net strikes me as a cross between one of the better Hallmark films and an old-school Disney TV movie, or in other words, a sweet if predictable story, with decent production values and pretty good acting.
Pre-teen girls will love it, and the rest of us won’t mind it.