Sports movies can be formulaic and full of clichés, but they can also entertain and inspire. I love feel-good sports movies, even mediocre films and some bad ones too.
“Lady Ballers”, the newest offering from the Daily Wire’s media braintrust, is an exception. The motion picture that debuted on their Daily Wire Plus service Friday is poorly done, punchless and unoriginal.
Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing plays Robert “Coach Miracle” Gibson. He’s a former champion basketball coach who’s fallen on hard times and losing seasons. We meet him in the present day, bemoaning his young players. In response, his team ignores his stale pep talk for whatever is on their cell phones. The times and the game have passed him by.
The rest of his life isn’t much better. The coach is a divorced father and his ex-wife (Lexie Contursi) is now in the arms of a leftist hippie (Matt Walsh) who’s “woke” yard signs include the slogan of “Silence is violence. Speech is also violence.”
Having worn out his welcome with his school and needing a job, Gibson stumbles into a job at a restaurant where all the wait staff are crossdressing men. He runs into Alex Cruise (Daniel Considine) who was a speedy, star point guard of the coach’s last championship team.
The former player is now an actor whose career has stagnated because, to quote Cruise, “A white male of non-exotic sexuality is the only ethnic group not being cast by Hollywood these days.”
Cruise notes he’s still quick on the court, and that gives Gibson an idea, leading to his former player, in a wig and breast forms, racing in a women’s sprint at an all-comers track meet. The lopsided win leads to big media attention, and that catches the eye of liberal media hawk Gwen Wilde (Billie Rae Brandt), who sees a possible trans athlete story as a road to scoops and clicks.
With a gleam in his eye and reporter in his ear, the coach launches the big scheme: Win the U.S. women’s basketball trials for the upcoming Global Games by getting his championship high school team back together.
The roster of characters follows, played by right-wing sport jock David Cone, along with fellow sports jocks Jake and Blaine Crain. Also on the team is comedian Tyler Fischer as the team’s tormented former towel boy who gets a chance to play ball.
The story devolves into five guys in bad wigs and ill-fitting pink jerseys pummeling women’s teams, along with typical conservative snark about everything from who watches women’s sports to pointed shots at the “liberal media,” “woke cancel culture,” Dylan Mulvaney, and even a scene in a swimming pool that was a telegraphed jab at transgender national champion swimmer Lia Thomas, with Riley Gaines making a cameo appearance.
The Daily Wire proudly claimed the movie would be “the most triggering movie of the year.” To this trans woman who plays sports and is a sports journalist when not being a cinema critic, “Lady Ballers” is a shoulder shrug.
The swipes at transgender women were expected, unoriginal and based on the same false information the Daily Wire and some other publications try to sell as “facts.” The subject-knowledge required to make good satire is absent here.
If they were attempting to take a shot at trans inclusion in sports, “Lady Ballers” threw up brick after brick.
A lot of the barbs ended up stinging cisgender women, and that is the contradiction of this work and the people who made it.
Boreing, Walsh and their crew, along with the cameo luminaries such as Gaines, Ben Shapiro (playing a basketball ref who admittedly had a funny line), Michael Knowles (who plays a “woke” television news anchor), Clay Travis, Jordan Peterson and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), constantly claim they want to “save women’s sports” and “protect women and girls.”
Yet, most of the nearly two hours of this film focused on belittling women in sports and women in general.
The film had a montage sequence showing Cone’s character on a wrestling mat slamming a woman who wouldn’t be anywhere near his weight class — These two athletes would never be matched up against one another in any competition. The basketball sequences featured more of the same tired old tropes against the women’s game.
The tone was set when this team played their first game. Boreing’s character notes the near-empty stands.
“It’s women’s basketball, boys. Nobody watches.”
Such sentiment is interesting given that this movie was filmed in Tennessee, where the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame stands, Tennessee Lady Vols basketball is a religion, and the late, legendary head coach Pat Summitt is an icon surpassed in the state only by Dolly Parton.
Overall, this film is yet another example of the axiom of the people who wrote, produced and now heartily support this film: The idea that transgender women are not women and cisgender women are lousy at sports.
For the lack of art, smarts, and creativity, “Lady Ballers” gets a thumbs down and zero stars.