Back Of The Net
Sofia Wylie, Trae Robin, Gemma Trua-Chan, Yasmin Honeychurch
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…abundant warmth, energy and charm…
Though catered to with primping regularity on the small screen, the tween audience has copped short shrift when it comes to cinema. Their tastes are so singular that they practically exclude interest from all outside demographics, perhaps putting the brakes on any possibility of making true box office gold. After crafting a modest success with 2017’s Rip Tide, prolific and enterprising producer Steve Jaggi replicates that film’s formula – relatively-high-profile-American-gets-transplanted-to-Australia – with Back Of The Net, which sees Disney Channel darling, Sofia Wylie (Andi Mack, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series), taking on a similar role to Rip Tide’s Debby Ryan (Jessie, Sing It!). The results are equally fresh and entertaining.
American-in-Oz, Cory Bailey (Wylie), is a nerd of the first order, more interested in science and studying than just about anything else. But when a classic absent-minded-professor move sees her board a bus for a soccer academy instead of the one taking students on an ocean study trip, Cory is thrown way, way outside of her comfort zone. Suddenly surrounded by cute boys, bitchy girls and sweet new friends, Cory has to use her considerably sized brain pan to find a way to carve out success on the soccer field.
Equipped with a cast boasting energy to burn – Sofia Wylie is like a cinematic ray of sunshine, while Kate Box (TV’s Rake and Wanted) gleefully steals all of her scenes as the soccer team’s harried coach – director, Louise Alston (making a surprise detour after the impressive Jucy and All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane), mines them for all they’re worth. With a limited budget, she really showcases her cast, letting their natural charisma and screen presence glow through. While the messages are strong and on-point, and the humour is effortlessly bubbly, the cliches do admittedly fly thick and fast, and you can pretty much see every plot move coming from a mile away. The film’s abundant warmth, energy and charm, however, make up for these shortfalls, and Back Of The Net ends up kicking more than a few nifty goals.