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THE WAY BACK

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THE WAY BACK

* *½

(Underdog team and coach)

You've seen it all before: Ragtag sports team gets new coach with all his baggage, finds its way and makes a big comeback. In spite of the familiarity, The Way Back has some good messages about believing in yourself, seeking help, and discipline.

Ben Affleck stars as Jack Cunningham, separated from his wife and a serious alcoholic. He starts each day with a beer in the shower, and ends the night passing out in a bar. Jack was the star player on the last decent high school basketball team, but for reasons we learn later he hasn't picked up a ball since.

When the coach suffers a heart attack, Jack is asked to take over, which he does reluctantly. The players accept him, he bonds with them, motivates them, and they start winning games. In spite of his problems, he is able to motivate the players. He stops drinking and the team starts winning.

The Catholic priest has problems with Jack's language and anger issues but tolerates his methods until there is a tragedy in Jack's family and he goes on a binge. Halfway through the movie we learn what caused Jack's drinking and do feel some sympathy for him.

It all comes down to the Big Game and a slightly different twist at the end.

Rated a big R because of Jack's garbage mouth.

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