Movie review: Touchback

From the April 12, 2012 edition

In October 2010, film director and Ohio State University graduate Don Handfield became the first person to film scenes on the field of the Horseshoe during a game. That day, OSU beat Purdue 49-0.

If only that same success had translated over to “Touchback,” a Capra-esque flick about football and small-town life that’s too sentimental for its own good.

A former high school football phenom sidelined by a career-ending injury during his senior year, Scott (Brian Presley) has turned into a small-town farmer facing foreclosure in a down economy.

Blatantly cribbing from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a suicide attempt goes wrong and Scott is given a chance to redo his final high school game.

Handfield, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, has created an overly safe but competent environment for his first feature film. Every major sequence is telegraphed well before the scenes actually show up.

The film’s other major flaw is casting a group of 30-somethings to play high school seniors. It’s too distracting to pretend that 35-year-old Presley and 40-year-old “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” vet Marc Blucas are actually teenagers.

Some of the older actors fare a little better, including Kurt Russell and Christine Lahti. And even though she doesn’t resemble a teenager, Melanie Lynskey turns in a terrific performance as Scott’s wife.