Published May 31, 2012The title, Crooked Arrows, connotes perseverance in the face of adversity, noting that a crooked arrow can be just as efficient as a straight one if you take the time to learn how to use it. And in case we couldn't establish this life-altering afterschool message on our own, there's a vision quest interlude at the midway point of this lacrosse-playing, Native spin on the Bad News Bears/Mighty Ducks formula, wherein it's clearly spelled out via exposition by an ersatz spiritual leader.
To boot, each underdog team player has a vision of their spiritual animal ― visually represented by sound effects and bad stock footage ― which pops up at key moments throughout the film (think Hot Rod, only without the intended humour).
Directed by Steve Rash (of American Pie: Band Camp and Bring it On: In it to Win It infamy), this tired sports formula replica has the visual panache of a Family Channel Original movie or any given straight-to-DVD release of a popular family-friendly sequel. There's a sassy old woman that spouts dialogue like, "that's how I roll," which is absolutely hilarious to everyone on-screen, and an extended musical montage to Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping," wherein the plucky young lacrosse players get their act together in a very short period of time.
In this sense, the broad humour, awkward contrivances and amusing use of Brandon Routh in the Emilio Estevez/Walter Matthau role could work, in a Cable TV distraction for the children kind of way, but Arrows has its sights set on an older audience. In addition to the nudity ― although, since it's an overweight person that's naked, it's likely intended as comedy, having no sexual context ― the trajectory gag of the film involves a misinterpretation of Haudenosaunee dialect, leaving the boys to exclaim, "vagina dodge" in their native tongue on the field repeatedly.
This leaves only the ham-fisted expression of sovereignty and minor factoids about the Haudenosaunee people to bring a sense of purpose to this uncomfortable and unintentionally laughable inspirational sports movie. At least it examines and humanizes beliefs not normally represented on film. (Alliance)