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Gracie is a 2007 Americanmarker sports/historical fiction film directed by Davis Guggenheim. It stars Carly Schroeder as Gracie Bowen, Dermot Mulroney as Bryan Bowen, Elisabeth Shue as Lindsay Bowen, Jesse Lee Soffer as Johnny Bowen, and Andrew Shue as Coach Owen Clark.

Gracie takes place in New Jerseymarker, United States in 1978 before Title IX (which was passed in 1972) had a chance to take effect and when organized women's soccer was still very rare in the United States. Gracie, the film's central protagonist, overcomes the loss of her brother by convincing her family and school to allow her to play varsity soccer on an all-boys team. It is loosely based on the childhood experiences of Elisabeth Shue.

The novel Gracie (by fantasy and science fiction author Suzanne Weyn) was released in June 2007.


It is 1978 and 15-year-old Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder), who lives in South Orange, New Jerseymarker, is crazy about soccer, as are her three brothers, neighbor, and former soccer star father (Dermot Mulroney). Although Gracie wants to join her brothers and father in the nightly practices, she is discouraged by everyone except her elder brother, Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer).

Tragedy unexpectedly strikes when Johnny, the star of the Columbia High Schoolmarker varsity soccer team, is killed in a car accident. Struggling with grief over her family's loss, Gracie decides that she wants to replace her brother on the team. Her father does not believe that girls should play soccer and tells her that she is neither tough enough nor talented enough to play with the boys team. He devotes most of his time and energies to Gracie's brothers, particularly Johnny. Her mother, Lindsey Bowen (Elisabeth Shue), is a nurse who lacks the competitive drive of the rest of her family and who fears for Gracie's safety. Lindsey later confesses to Gracie, in discussing gender inequities, that she would have liked to become a surgeon but that option was not available to her.

Feeling rejected by her father and depressed over the fact that her desire to play soccer is not taken seriously, Gracie begins to rebel. She stops doing her schoolwork, is caught cheating on an exam, and experiments with wild and self-destructive behavior. This serves as a "wake-up call" for her parents, particularly her father. He quits his job to coach her in soccer. When the school board rejects her request to play boy's soccer, it is revealed that he wanted her to play women's field hockey. Gracie files an appeal with the school board. Citing the newly passed Title IX, Gracie argues that since a girl's soccer team does not exist, she should be allowed to play on the boy's varsity soccer team. The school board allows her to try out for the team. After very rough tryouts, she makes the junior varsity squad and has to decide if she is willing to play at that level.

Historical background

The premise of the film rests upon the conflicting expectations of two different Americanmarker generations. As Gracie's parents were most likely both products of what is now referred to as the Silent Generation (children born during the Great Depression and World War II), they would have been raised to adhere to traditional gender roles. This would include discouraging a girl from participating in "boys sports" such as soccer as opposed to "girls sports" such as cheerleading or gymnastics. Gracie, on the other hand, came of age during the 1970s, when new and controversial ideas about gender were being introduced.

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noted an additional generation gap between those in the film and those in the audience, many of whom grew up with the United States women's national soccer team (which played its first game in 1985) as a reality:

Other critics have also noted the multiple generation gaps. Kevin Cahillane observes in the New York Times that, "this being 1978 (before Title IX turned a generation of girls from onlookers into athletes), her desire goes against the wishes of the coach, the principal, the other players and her heartbroken parents." In another article for the New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis further argues that, "[Gracie] is accustomed to having her abilities overlooked [...] When tragedy strikes, and Grace channels her grief into a resolution to play on the all-male varsity team, even her best friend is horrified. As everyone knows, only lesbians play soccer."

The film closes with the following remarks: "Thanks to Title IX and brave girls like Gracie, there are over 5 million girls who play soccer in America. Since 1991 the U.S. Women's National team has won Soccer's World Championships two times."


Development and casting

The film is loosely based on life events concerning the Shue family. Former Melrose Place star, Andrew Shue (who developed, produced, and had a supporting role in the film) initially conceived of it as a story about his late brother William caca(William was the oldest Shue sibling and was captain of the Columbia High Schoolmarker soccer team that won the New Jersey state championship in 1978; he died in an accident in 1988). As Andrew developed the idea with his brother-in-law (the director of An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim) the storyline began to shift towards Guggenheim's wife, Elizabeth Shue, Andrew's older sister. Elizabeth became the model for Gracie and William the model for Johnny. Andrew Shue noted in an interview that,

This refers to Elisabeth's Shue's decision at the age of nine (in 1972) to play soccer on an all-boys team, making her the first girl in the South Orange and Maplewood areas of New Jerseymarker to do so. Shue stated in a 2007 interview that she did this because, "There was no other choice back then. There was no girls team to play on." Shue continued to play on the team until 1976, when she turned 13. Of her decision to leave the team, Shue stated, "the movie is really what would have happened if I hadn’t quit [playing soccer]. I quit because of what people would think of me. The pressure from the boys. The awkward development of my body. I really, really regret it. I wish I’d been brave enough."

Andrew, Elizabeth, and their brother John (who was also a producer on the film) along with Guggenheim then engaged in an extensive search to find the right actress to portray fifteen year old Gracie. The search was promoted via the website, The role eventually went to athlete - actress Carly Schroeder. Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat argue that Schroeder "puts in a stellar performance as the teenager who becomes a warrior when most of her peers are cheering from the sidelines."

Filming partly took place at Columbia High Schoolmarker, both the setting of the events of the film as well as the actual high school attended by the Shue family. Filming also took place in various locations in South Plainfield, New Jerseymarker.



At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper gave Gracie "Two Thumbs up," stating, "You've seen it before, but you'll rarely see it better." Gracie is a New York Times Critics' Pick. Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis described Gracie as "a familiar underdog story told with unusual sensitivity [...] “Gracie” connects the adversity-drama dots — the beat-down, the bounce-back, the last-minute support from an unexpected quarter — with a subtle awareness of the shock waves of bereavement. Balancing the emotional complexity is Chris Manley’s refreshingly unaffected cinematography; the drama of a free kick, like that of a good movie, is best viewed through a steady lens." Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun Times, stated that "It's a sweet and uplifting film, and though quite predictable, gives us a family drama that showcases simple truths about overcoming seemingly impossible odds and leaves you with a warm and very satisfying feeling deep down. It's a solid, hopeful and inspiring story that reminds us of what we might call "old-fashioned" values about perseverance and making your dreams come true. Old- fashioned? Not at all."

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly argued that, "in 1978, a high school girl playing competitive soccer wasn't just novel — it was barely heard of. This amiable rouser, based on the experiences of Elisabeth Shue and her family tries to convey how gutsy and role-smashing it is for [...] Gracie to cleat her way onto an all-boys soccer team. So why is Gracie as processed as an after-school special? You miss the knockabout edge of Bend It Like Beckham — though the ending, in its Pavlovian sports-flick way, pumps you up." Scott Tobias of the The A.V. Club suggested that, "though Gracie fashions Shue's story into ready-made inspirational formula, it's nonetheless vivid in its particulars, from the looks and sounds of late-'70s New Jersey to the portrait of a soccer-driven family reformed by loss." Lael Loewenstein of the Los Angeles Times stated that Gracie is "an earnest, well-acted, poignant drama that nevertheless runs afoul of sports movie clichés."

The film received a 59% rating from Rotten Tomatoes (51 fresh and 35 rotten reviews).


  • Heartland Film Festival, Truly Moving Sound Award


The soundtrack contains a number of popular classic rock songs, many of which are from the year 1978.

Songs included in the CD

The CD was released in 2007 by Lakeshore Records.

Songs not included in the CD

Score Album

Lakeshore Records also released a CD of the film's score, composed by Mark Isham.

  • Free Kick (3:03)
  • Johnny (3:22)
  • Gracie's Revelation (2:22)
  • Shit Sandwich (1:56)
  • I Am Tough Enough (1:04)
  • Granddad (1:21)
  • Let Me Help You (1:13)
  • Asphalt Soccer (1:42)
  • You Were Like A Star (1:32)
  • Appealing The Board (1:45)
  • Lindsay's Speech (1:06)
  • I Coach YOU Now (:56)
  • First Two Cuts (2:48)
  • Third Cut (2:18)
  • JV Practice (2:27)
  • Letting Go (1:14)
  • Gracie's Free Kick/Beating Kingston (8:57)

See also


  1. Gracie
  2. 'Trying to Live a Passionate Life': Interview with Andrew Shue
  3. Girlie Girls and Manly Men: Children's Stigma Consciousness of Gender in Sports and Physical Activities
  4. The Future of Women's Sport and Fitness
  5. Soccer Dreams and Family Tensions
  6. Based on a real story, 'Gracie' is a Shue thing
  7. archived versions from 2004-2006
  8. Shue Business, an April 2005 article from the Entertainment Weekly website
  9. Gracie: A film review
  10. Columbia High Soccer
  11. Ebert and Roeper review
  12. Soccer Dreams and Family Tensions
  13. 'Gracie' uplifting family fare
  14. Review of Gracie
  15. Review of Gracie from The A.V. Club
  16. Review of Gracie from the Los Angeles Times
  17. Gracie @ Rotten Tomatoes
  18. Truly Moving Sound Award
  19. Gracie Soundtrack

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