12 Mighty Orphans: A true story based on an American football team who defied the odds

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This is an underdog sports movie. There will be triumph over adversity, seemingly insurmountable obstacles and a rousing finale.

Luke Wilson plays saintly PE teacher and war hero Rusty Russell who uproots his English teacher wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw) and two young daughters from their comfortable life in Texas to the dustbowl of Fort Worth to take a job in an impoverished school for orphans.

Determined to motivate his unruly charges, he takes on far better resourced schools in the high-school football league. As he has just 12 players, he knows he and Sheen’s boozy assistant coach will have to rely on us-versus-them psychology and innovative tactics. Early successes turn the lads into national celebrities until rival schools resort to dirty tricks.

It’s predictable but this rousing and unshowy crowdpleaser proves that the old formula still works.

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