Believe in Me (2006)

60% – Critics
74% – Audience

Believe in Me Storyline

Girls? The thought of coaching them seems preposterous to Clay Driscoll (earnest newcomer Jeffrey Donovan), who travels to Middleton, Okla., in the 1960s prepared to coach the varsity boys’ team. But that position is filled, so he’s forced to coach the girls’ team — the Lady Cyclones. Faced with an under-performing crew of untrained players, the coach begins to treat the girls like boys. They run laps in a closed gym and practice shots and plays they’ve never tried before — and eventually their “old-fashioned grit” leads them to a Cinderella season culminating with the state championships. Along their way, Driscoll and the girls overcome several obstacles, most of all, gaining a fan base. Meanwhile, big man in town Ellis Brawley (Bruce Dern) can’t stand Driscoll and his newfangled idea of empowering female athletes. Of course, the Lady Cyclones are up to the task of proving Brawley wrong. Driven by their caring young coach, the girls determine to play as hard as the boys, even though they know they’ll probably end up “farmers’ and ranchers’ wives.” Can they achieve their winning moment at State?

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Believe in Me Movie Reviews

An empowering film for both women and men

I waited until my husband was out of town to watch this, because I didn’t think he’d be into it. I wish he’d seen it with me, because this story is a story for everybody.

The main character, Clay Driscoll, is genuine to the core. He exhibits the kind of traits that I want my son to grow up to possess. Despite being given a basketball team that he didn’t want to coach, he sticks to his responsibility and gives it his all. It’s a story of his discovering his own mettle and strength, and discovering what he really wants.

But the basketball team he coaches…those are girls after your heart! I cried with a sense of triumph during this movie and took a shine to Clay’s wife, who encouraged and supported her husband throughout all the trials of the journey with his team. I highly recommend this movie–especially for a family or a youth group or if a teacher wants to show a movie at school. It is well done and powerful. I wish more movies were of this quality.

Emotional, heartfelt and spirited.

Based on the book “Brief Garland” by Harold Keith; written for the screen and directed by Robert Collector. A fictionalized story based on real-life Oklahoma Hall of Fame coach Jim Keith. In the 1960s, Clay Driscoll(Jeffrey Donovan) and his wife Jean(Samantha Mathis)move from Muskogee County in eastern Oklahoma to a small farming town suffering a drought in western Oklahoma. Driscoll arrives thinking he has a job teaching history and coaching the boy’s basketball team. To his dismay he ends up coaching the girl’s team, the Lady Cyclones. His perseverance and stubborn pride gives him the courage to go against the school board President Ellis Brawley(Bruce Dern), who has the town and the school board in his back pocket. He also owns the bank that holds mortgages on most of the homesteads in town. Returning to a second season, the hard-headed coach and his determined girl’s team fight for equality and their share of the dream of winning the State Championship. The whole town backs the coach and his “girls” to finally put Ellis Brawley in his place. An inspirational and feel-good movie. Also in the cast: Brandi Engel, Kristin Brye, Bob Gunton, Anne Judson-Yager and Heather Matarazzo.

derivative but sometmes touching sports story

Sort of a distaff version of “Glory Road,” “Believe in Me” tells the true life story of a girls’ high school basketball coach in 1960’s Oklahoma who, by instilling the values of hard work, perseverance and teamwork into his players, leads his underdog team to victory in the state championships. In this case, it is not the girls who give the coach the majority of his headaches but rather the town leaders, who don’t believe that girls’ sports should be accorded the same level of respect and financial support that has always been given, without question, to the boys.

As conceived by writer/director Robert Collector, “Believe in Me” floats along quite contentedly on a sea of inspirational-sports-movie clichés. Yet, despite its overall predictability and corniness, the movie contains enough genuinely touching moments to make it worth recommending. Moreover, Jeffrey Donovan is so earnest and appealing and brings such a self-effacing modesty to the role of the coach that he draws us into the character and the story almost against our will. Samantha Mathis is also effective as the wife whose words of wisdom and support sustain him in his most difficult hours. Bruce Dern is stuck playing what is probably the most one-dimensional character in the movie – the grumpy town leader who does everything in his power to undercut Coach Driscoll’s efforts on behalf of his team. The girls are pleasant enough as a group, but none steps out of the background long enough to make herself a compelling individual.

This is definitely a minor addition to the list of memorable movies about team sports, but given its limitations and modest ambitions, it makes for passable viewing.