Producers Are Hoping Stick Saga Will Sell
“Do you believe in miracles?”
“Quack, Quack, Quack…”
“Bad news for the Athletics, that’s what it means.”
For most sports fans, these quotes are second nature; and for many, they instill hope, pride and the winning spirit. It’s the American way to root for the underdog, whether or not the outcome is already known. The uncertainty is what keeps viewers on the edge of their seats until the final scene -- when the winning goal is scored, or the walk-off home run is hit.
Where "Hoosiers," "The Mighty Ducks" and "The Bad News Bears" left off, "Crooked Arrows" picks up. The film industry’s first major motion picture about lacrosse, "Crooked Arrows" aspires to be an accurate, in-depth look into one of America’s most historical sports.
When Joe Logan comes back from business school ready to turn his reservation’s casino into a full-fledged enterprise, he is met with opposition.
“His father [the tribe’s chief] is disappointed in him and says ‘I didn’t send you to all these fancy schools so you could come back and build a monument to gambling and alcohol,’” said J. Todd Harris, one of "Crooked Arrows" producers.
Upon their disagreement, the protagonist is sent to the tribal council, where he presents his case. When they believe Logan isn’t in touch with his spiritual side, council members give him a task.
“They’ll only allow it to happen if our hero will rediscover his spirit, and it’s up to his father how he does it. His father tasks him with coaching the [reservation’s] lacrosse team,” Harris said. “Resentful team meets disinterested coach and sports underdog movie ensues.”
After the team is placed into a local prep school league against teams with better fields, better equipment and more talent, players are thrown into adversity and embarrassment. But when coach and kids put aside their pettiness, they not only learn something about one another, they learn about their heritage. In a compelling scene in the movie, the group is introduced to an ancient Indian by the name of Crooked Arrows.
“The kids sit around the firelight and they hear him out, and they learn something about their heritage, and they learn something about lacrosse, and they learn about what it means to them,” Harris said. “And the Indian says basically, we’re all crooked arrows. We all follow our different paths just as long as we get to our destination. And that’s really what a crooked arrow is.”
So why lacrosse?
“It’s the fastest growing sport in America and it’s never had a movie,” Harris said. “It’s got a very interesting background, more so than most other sports because it came from Native American tribes.”
According to a 2008 USA Lacrosse survey, the number of youth and high school lacrosse participants has grown at an astounding rate of 112.2 and 116.8 percent, respectively, in the last seven years. In the same survey, USA Lacrosse cites a National Federation of State High School Associations survey listing lacrosse as having the No. 1 combined growth rate among high school boys and girls in the last 10 years at 425.1 percent.
With a strong showing at the box office, lacrosse could continue to grow at an exponential rate. But what makes this movie different is the history. Unlike recent sport movies, "Crooked Arrows" is being designed to give ordinary people a look into a world most know very little about.
“It’s not as easy as doing a baseball movie when you know that tens of millions of people go see the sport every year, or a football movie where it’s the same thing,” Harris said.
“I’m hoping that a lot of people really learn something about lacrosse and its history. [I hope] that a couple hundred thousand people or a couple million people go see this movie who’ve never picked up a stick or been to a game and go ‘My God, you know I’ve heard about lacrosse but I didn’t know a thing about it and now I do.’ ”
For those familiar with lacrosse, the "Crooked Arrows" team has every intention of making this movie look as real as possible. The movie has partnered up with Sports Studios, a company that has done action scenes for such films as "Invincible," "Miracle" and "We Are Marshall."
Mark Ellis, sports coordinator of "Crooked Arrows," has been working in the business for 15 years, and his and Sports Studios’ movies have won three ESPY awards for Sports Movie of the Year.
“Lacrosse is obviously a great example of a sport where you quickly and visually get to understand what people are made of,” said Ellis. “With the help of some great athletes, we will most definitely get that on film.”
“I expect the people who love lacrosse to think that we did the sport justice on the screen,” Harris said, “and that we had some of the most kick-ass rocking lacrosse [scenes] that they’ve ever seen on camera. And given our affiliation with Sports Studios, we should have some kicking lacrosse.”
But past the comedy, the sport and the history, the movie still revolves around family.
“I’m hoping that people just enjoy a father-son underdog sports movie,” Harris said.
The Reebok-sponsored sports movie hopes to finish up financing by the end of March and begin shooting early in the summer. For more information, check out CrookedArrowsmovie.com.
Issue 146: February 2010