Fantasy Football is another kid’s wish sports movie you’ve seen before. The gimmicks, slang, and magic used in this movie have been updated to fit into modern pop culture, but it follows the same tired formula. While it may not be the worst movie you will watch with your kids, it isn’t a great one either. Fantasy Football is fine for what it is, but it won’t be winning any awards.
Callie’s dad is a professional football player that is constantly being traded. As a result, her family moves around a lot, and playing Madden is Callie’s only constant. All she wants is to have a place she can call her home, but moving makes this impossible. When they move to Atlanta, Callie and her family have hope that this will be their final move. Callie joins a club and is starting to make friends. But hope starts to fade as her father’s career isn’t going well. Her father is getting older and is no longer as skilled as he used to be. He is overshadowed by the up-and-coming talent that surrounds him. At their lowest, a wish is made that will change everything. Callie finds that she can control her dad through her game. Together they start winning games and creating headlines. Can Callie balance her new life and her father’s career? Will the Falcons make it to the Super Bowl?
This movie is as cookie-cutter as it gets; there is no getting around it. One thing to note, there is a lot of shameless product placement in this movie. This is essentially a giant commercial for Madden and the NFL. It is still one of the better commercials I’ve seen, but it is something to keep in mind.
Fantasy Football is fine for a kids’ movie. The writing is sloppy and problematic at points, but it is good enough. The acting is inconstant, but there is only so much that can be done with this script. There is also no chemistry between the actors. Callie is a solid lead, although her story is a bit of a fumble. The emotional moments don’t hit as hard because there isn’t any proper development for any of them. This movie focuses mainly on Football and Madden, so Callie never gets a chance to develop her character or create the meaningful relationships the movie tells you she does. There’s enough story to make it a kids’ movie, but I found it a little lazy. You have to suspend all your disbelief for this movie to work, but you are probably not the target audience.
Although I found some of the dialogue problematic, I appreciate this story being about people of color. As a person of color, it’s nice to see that kids are starting to get movies with a more diverse representation. It meant a lot to me as a kid when I finally got to see people that looked like me on TV, and I can only imagine it is true for kids today. Fantasy Football is a step in the right direction toward more positive and diverse stories, but we still have ways to go.
What I liked most about this movie is that it doesn’t have a tangible villain. I found it interesting that the villain in this movie is pride. The dad may have a rival, but the rival isn’t a terrible person that needs to be defeated. Instead, it is pride that complicates the narrative and creates the adversities the characters need to overcome. The dad consumed with pride fails to see how his actions make him selfish. Callie, consumed by her father’s pride, is forced to make a difficult decision. It is refreshing to see characters not have to overcome some cartoonishly evil villain, but something more personal. It isn’t done well, but I appreciate that there was an attempt.
I have sat through worse movies than Fantasy Football. Don’t go out of your way to watch this movie because it isn’t worth it, but you won’t hate it if you have to watch it with your kids. You will get bored, but trust me, it could be worse. You can stream it on Paramount+.
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