Have you ever wanted to change a major event in your past, something that you’ve reflected on for several years, but always felt could have gone a different way? Changing a few things might seem like a good idea, but you’d have to take a few other things into consideration, such as how that change would affect you and the people you know. Furthermore, would it really make your life turn out for the better?
Scott Murphy (Brian Presley) has such an event in his life that has altered it drastically. Back in high school, he was one of the greatest football players in the state, ready to go to college on a full scholarship. In 1991, he helped lead his small-town team to the championship game where his leg was twisted on the final play. His team won the championship, but Scott has been unable to play football ever since.
In present day, he’s a farmer who lives with his wife Macy (Melanie Lynskey) and two daughters in a trailer. He’s currently growing beans, but is having a lot of trouble paying the bills. He’s even taken out a loan that he can’t pay back until his crops are harvested. However, the bank has called in his loan and he finds himself without any means of harvesting his crops. This leads him to believe that suicide is his only way out, so he clogs the tailpipe of his car, hops inside, and lets it run.
He awakens to find himself back in high school before the big game in which he was injured. He is understandably shocked, but thrilled that he is able to play football again. This leads him to start questioning the choices he made back then in that final game. He hopes that things can be different if he changes a few plays, still leading the team to a victory, but avoiding his crippling injury. Meanwhile, he has to win over Macy all over again since at this time he was with another girl, but he finds that it’s not quite so easy.
Touchback is a film that’s peppered with sweet moments such as when Scott finally gets to play football again after 15 years. He gets so into it that he wants to keep going after the coach calls it a day and the other players are exhausted. Others include him chasing after Macy, who seems to think of him only as a big, dumb jock until he shows her that there’s more to him than that.
However, the film begins to wear a little thin once those moments of “wow, I’ve gone back in time” wear off. Strangely enough, I found myself more interested in the plight of Scott the farmer than Scott the football player since the farmer was having more of a crisis. The football player merely has to play his game and perhaps change a play or two, but by the time the game rolls around, it’s rather predictable what he’s going to do.
This lead to a rather strange ending that leaves a pretty big question unanswered. It makes it feel as though there’s a plothole that the writer, Don Handfield, just didn’t want to explain, leaving the audience to just accept that everything is fine, despite what had happened earlier. This is Handfield’s first theatrical film as a writer and as a director and it’s certainly not bad. He just needs to learn to follow through on his ideas more. Also, the film could have used another trip through the editing room as it felt far too long at nearly two hours.
Another strange instance occurs in the game itself when the moment of truth comes and Scott has to decide what final play he wants to use. His choice ends up being a rather peculiar one, even more so as he seems to think that it’s the one that will win him Macy. As I mentioned earlier, it’s rather predictable, but it still doesn’t explain why he doesn’t simply use another play to achieve the same result. The best reason seems to be so that the tail ending of the film makes sense, allowing for another sweet moment to be added before the credits.
Again, it’s not a bad film. It just needed a little trimming and a little work on the ending. The choice Scott makes is a big one. There needed to be a little more of an understanding as to why he went with the choice he did. That way we could feel for the character all the way through the end of the film, instead of just being left with a contrived ending that leaves us in the dark.
Touchback is a sweet family film that ultimately lacks enough insight into the main character's thought process as he struggles to make a decision that could change his life.