Movie Review: 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS Starring Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen
’12 Mighty Orphans’ is a true story of twelve mighty orphans who ruled Texas high school football during The Great Depression.
The book, written by Jim Dent, tells the story of a Masonic Home in Fort Worth that was looked at as second-class citizens by many in the community. Rusty Russell, a coach with a vision, played in the film by Luke Wilson, designs what has become the modern-day spread offense.
The reason that Russell designed this offense, which was laughed at by many at the time, was because his team was so small. A local reporter who followed the team nicknamed them the ‘Mighty Mites.’ While Russell built the Orphans into a powerhouse, the school always seemed to fall short in the title game.
While the book tracks the dozen or so seasons that the Orphans dominated their opponents, the film focuses on the first year of the squad and the issues that Russell and his boys had to overcome.
I was a huge fan of the book, having read it twice. It’s a very inspirational read and it’s impressive that Dent was able to dig up as much information as he did on the depression-era team. Unfortunately, the movie fails to do the book justice.
The movie comes off as a Lifetime film. Wilson and Sheen do their best to invoke passion into their respective roles, but are not helped by a paper thin script.
The movie fails to go deeper into Russell’s struggles with being blinded by mustard gas in WWI. The film touches on it, but it never really goes into how difficult it was for Russell to overcome this.
The film is basically a cookie-cutter sports drama with little to no surprises. I kept waiting for more but it never came. The movie comes off as tale about overcoming obstacles with sheer grit. In a way, this is a perfect film for right now, but it just lacks the bite to reel audiences in.
Overall, ’12 Mighty Orphans’ is a book that the Good Doctor highly recommends to any casual or hardcore sports fan. The movie on the other hand, it might be worth a watch if you have a couple hours to kill, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking or life-altering.
’12 Mighty Orphans’ gets a C-.