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Film / The Big Green

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The Big Green is a 1995 live-action sports comedy film from Disney, starring Olivia d'Abo as Anna Montgomery, a British teacher who had been transferred to the incredibly sleepy little (fictional) town of Elma, Texas, a town so small, there's only one school, and the school is divided into two classes - little kids and big kids.

Miss Montgomery is assigned to teach the big kids, but soon learns that the kids have no interest whatsoever in anything, because they feel they're losers. Miss Montgomery decides to try and get the kids involved in an activity that will help boost their confidence, as well as bring them together, so she forms a soccer team with them. Aided by local town Deputy Sheriff Tom Palmer (Steve Guttenberg), who has a crush on her, Miss Montgomery and Deputy Tom try to whip the new team into shape, and sign them up in the junior soccer league, pitting them against top contenders and current state champions, the Austin Knights, coached by Jay Hoffer (Jay O. Sanders).

The Big Green, as they're later called (it's what the old school yard used to be called), fails to win any game, until new student Juan Morales, from El Paso, is enrolled in school, and they see he's a natural at soccer. With Juan on the team, as well as the continued efforts by Miss Montgomery and Deputy Tom to coach them along, the kids slowly but surely build up their confidence, and soon it spreads throughout the town, sparking a new interest in soccer, and giving the townsfolk something to look forward to. Suffice to say in the end, Miss Montgomery definitely made a lasting impact on the town of Elma.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: The kids refer to Deputy Tom as Deputy Dawg, while he calls them as midgets (this was before the word was recognized as a slur).
  • The Bet: Jay uses this as an excuse to try and get a kiss from Miss Montgomery, though she sees past this, and makes an offer that if the Knights lose, he has to kiss Ernie the Goat.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The other older children tease Juan, assuming he can't play soccer well enough to score against Larry. However, once they see how well he can play, they become really excited, even saying he's the key to their winning at soccer while he's in earshot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Deputy Tom manages to bring Juan back during the final match.
  • Big Game: In the end when the Big Green take on the Knights.
  • Book Ends: Jay Hoffer Jr. is both the first player to score against the Big Green in their first matchup and the last to try to score against them in the championship.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Kate gives her dad an earful when she realizes he was partly responsible for Juan and his mother fleeing.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Deputy Tom.
  • Cool Teacher: Miss Montgomery.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Sue and Lou. Their jersey numbers are even "2A" and "2B".
  • David Versus Goliath: The Big Green is composed of a bunch of misfits, including girls and a little kid, who go up against trained players on the Knights' team.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost all of the kids, but perhaps Kate most of all; she chews out Deputy Tom and her father over their parts in causing Juan and his mother to flee to avoid deportation.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Well, not exactly cheat, but Jay does take the time to handicap the Big Green. In addition to coaching the Knights, his paying job is working for the IRS, and Kate's dad tells him Juan and his mother are illegal aliens. As it turns out, while Juan is legally an American citizen (he was born in El Paso), his mother isn't, and as such, they flee to avoid getting in trouble with U.S. Immigration, which causes a stir for the Big Green, especially Kate.
  • Down to the Last Play: The penalty shootout at the end.
  • Dying Town: Elma, Texas. Some descriptions of the movie lampshade this.
  • Friend to All Children: Subverted with Deputy Tom. He seems to have mild contempt for the children, but at the same time, he allows them to razz him, call him "Deputy Dawg", and even lets them take his cruiser for a joyride out in the fields as long as they don't tell anybody (plus, he seems to enjoy it as much as they do).
  • Friendly Enemy: Somewhat. Deputy Tom and Jay don't appear to outright hate each other, in fact, they exchange barbs and quips just about every time they encounter each other; at the same time, they clearly aren't friends, Tom even remarks to Miss Montgomery, "I can't stand that creep, I can't stand his kids".
  • Guys are Slobs: Kate's father is an messy-haired and unshaven alcoholic who spends his days doing nothing but lying around the house, sucking down beers and smoking cigarettes. Anytime he does leave the house, it's to head down to the bar, and drink himself unconscious.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Both Deputy Tom and Jay have this reaction when they see Miss Montgomery for the first time.
    Deputy Palmer: Bingo! That's a Code Red! (Approaches Miss Montgomery from behind with his lights and siren on)
  • Heroic Rematch: The first match of the untrained Big Green is against the Austin Knights, and, not yet knowing how to play, they get curbstomped badly. The final match of the tournament is, once again, the Big Green vs. Austin Knights. Suffice to say things go very differently.
  • Hot Teacher: Anna Montgomery... hello, it's Olivia d'Abo... in sweaters and miniskirts!
  • The Illegal: Mrs. Morales. She pays taxes and social security under a name on a fake ID card. Her greatest fear is being separated from Juan, an American citizen who was born in El Paso. She is forced to take Juan and flee U.S. Immigration when Deputy Palmer investigates her activity under orders from his Sheriff.
  • Imagine Spot: Larry has one every single time opponents come at him to score a goal, he keeps envisioning them as various different kinds of "bad guys", including actual knights, terminators, vikings, pirates, ninjas and even zombies (funnily enough, each of these appear to be the teams' actual names). Larry gets a pep-talk from Deputy Tom and his dad, who encourage him to "become part of the nightmare". He manages to get Jay Hoffer Jr. to have an Imagine Spot of his own, as he sees Larry as a combination of all the previous baddies.
  • Jerkass: Jay Hoffer, who looks down on Tom for trying to coach soccer despite not having a child of his own and looks down on the Big Green for not being as polished as the Knights.
  • Jerk Jock: Just about all of the Knights. Jay Huffer encourages this behavior by pointing out to his players what he sees as flaws in the Big Green.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kate's father is a Jerkass up to the point where she tells him off, afterwards, he finally cleans himself up shows up with the championship game to make an effort to support Kate.
    • Deputy Tom is a milder example, he's not so much a jerk, as he just has little patience for the kids, and reluctantly agrees to help coach them because it allows him to spend more time with Miss Montgomery.
  • Loose Lips: Jay Hoffer and Kate's father Ed get to talking in the local bar, and Ed suggests the Morales' presence in town may not be legal. Jay offers to buy Ed another drink so he can get more information on Juan and his mother and try to get them deported.
  • Mascot: Ernie the Goat.
  • Miracle Rally: Pretty much a standard for kids' sports flicks.
  • Missing Mom: Kate's mother left her and her father three years prior to the setting of the movie.
  • New Transfer Student: Juan.
  • The '90s
  • Parental Abandonment: Kate lives this. Her mom left years ago, her father is a Jerkass slacker who shows no interest in her life whatsoever, and as a result, Kate herself feels like a worthless, loser. Even Miss Montgomery has trouble trying to reach her when she sees Kate puts absolutely no effort into her schoolwork, figuring she'll just end up being a cashier at Piggly Wiggly.
  • Police Are Useless: Lampshaded at least twice in the movie, as Deputy Tom spends so much time helping Miss Montgomery coach the kids, that Larry at one point asks him, "While you're here, who's giving out speeding tickets and picking dead animals off the highway?" Later still, the Sheriff calls Tom into his office and tells him, "I've got some actual sheriff work for you to do."
  • Puppy Love: Arises between Kate and Juan.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Shirtless Scene: Subverted when Juan rejoins the Big Green during their championship game; we get a partially-obstructed view of Juan taking off his green T-shirt and donning the jersey that replaced it.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Sue and Lou. Their jersey numbers are even 2A and 2B!
  • Smooch of Victory: The stakes of The Bet Jay proposes to Miss Montgomery. Averted when he has to kiss the goat instead.
  • Soccer-Hating Americans: It takes some effort to get the American Football-loving Texans into soccer.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Sue and Lou again.
  • Undercrank: Used in the opening scene, when Anna hoses four of the boys to get pigeons off them.
    • Also after Jeffrey, Newt and Tak have cows eat the overgrown grass on the school's field. When Larry comes to meet them, he steps on some cow dung and starts to chase them in anger, with the chase being filmed like this.
  • Underdogs Never Lose
  • Who Needs Overtime?: Regulation time in the championship game ends with the score tied at 2-2, but the decision is made to forego overtime and go directly to a shootout.