This is a charming and inspirational family drama, written and directed by Corbin Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law, etc.). 12-year-old Trey Caldwell's father gives him a soapbox derby car kit for Christmas, saying they'll build the car together, and Trey will race it. Soon after, his dad is called up for reservist duty in Afghanistan and is tragically killed. Trey decides that an appropriate tribute to his dad would be to finish building the car and try to race it. Trey is put in touch with a former winner of the National Soap Box Derby (also Bernsen), who lives in his same California town, and who has suffered a personal loss of his own. Reluctantly, the two team up and start a journey that takes them to Akron, Ohio and the national Soap Box Derby finals. Along the way, there are emotional losses to be coped with, relationship issues to be dealt with, technical problems with the derby car, rivalries with fellow racers to get past, and ultimately the possible end of the Derby tradition when it falls on financial hard times. This little independent film has a terrific cast, particularly Nathan Gamble as young Trey Campbell, and grizzled Bernsen as Roy Gibbs. Watch for a Lincoln connection as Trey tours the Soap Box Derby museum and the winning 1967 "Grasshopper" car from Lincoln, NE gets a moment in the spotlight. For anyone not familiar with this long-running all-American sport, this film is truly a love letter to the Soap Box Derby. My only complaint is that the movie gets a bit "preachy" at times, but Bernsen explains his motivation for that in a "making of" featurette on this DVD. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library
[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official 25 Hill web site ]
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