The Big Green
Run Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Despite the comedic format of the film, The Big Green tackles some very complicated issues regarding class and race stereotypes. Overall, this film does a great job of engaging with cultural identities in a positive way and offers an often ignored narrative regarding immigration into the United States.
A soccer team made-up of misfits shows that with dedication and teamwork anything is possible.
- Demeaning and threatening language- “dodo brain,” “losers,” “zip it midgets,” “blockhead,” “creep,” “jerk,” “wimps,” “Mexi-kid,” “foreigners,” “hell,” “damn,” “a bunch of hicks”
- Violent threats-“Ill cut a switch off any of your hides”
- Weapons-knife, sword
- Minimal sexual content- kissing
- Kate’s (a member on the soccer team) father appears to be an alcoholic and is often shown in a bar setting or drinking alcohol. Also, he is shown passed-out in a bar.
- Kate’s father smokes, and a cigarette is visible.
- Other characters are shown drinking in a bar, and “scotch” is mentioned.
- Many of the female characters in the film challenge traditional gender roles regarding femininity. For example, Miss Anna Montgomery, the new teacher at the school, shows that women can be active, accomplished athletes as she is a skilled soccer player. Also, Kate is depicted as tough and independent as many times she has had to take care of herself because her father appears to suffer from alcoholism and depression.
- In addition, the film depicts both the male and female players as valuable assets to the team. For example, both males and females score goals during the big game. Oftentimes in the media male athletes are depicted as superior to female athletes, and male athletes tend to be valued more for their athletic ability while female athletes are valued for their performance of femininity.
- The film includes many minor characters of color in a positive way.
- The film attempts to give a voice to people who immigrate to the United States and the hardships that families face as a result of strict immigration laws. For example, Juan’s mother immigrated to the United States without proper paperwork and gave birth to Juan in the U.S. (making Juan a U.S. citizen). Juan’s mother is threated with deportation to El Salvador.
Sexual Orientation– N/A
- Twins on the soccer team have asthma, but it is not depicted in a negative way.
- Many body types are included in the film, and all of the team members (regardless of their gender, height, weight, etc.) are ultimately depicted as capable athletes.
- The male gaze is present throughout the film. For example, Miss Anna Montgomery is depicted as desirable by the adult male characters and a kiss from Miss Anna is used as a bet during the final game.
- In the film, the goalie imagines himself wearing a Native American headdress (in addition to a number of other “threating” articles of clothing) in order to boost self-confidence and intimidate the opposing team by becoming a “monster.” This is problematic because Native American culture has been depicted as savage and uncivilized throughout history.
- There appears to be no variation of sexual orientation.
- No major characters are depicted as having a disability.
- The team’s goalie, Larry, is fat-bodied and is regularly shown eating junk food. Also, Larry is depicted as less active than the other members of the team.
Suggested talking points
- Miss Montgomery says that “America is a place where you can be anything you want to be.” This quote perpetuates the notion of the American Dream in which hard work equals success. However, this myth does not take into consideration the social position of different identities.
- This film depicts the working class, which is regularly ignored in children’s films. This is important because it shows that not all children are afforded the same luxuries and resources as other children. While the film does sometimes depict a stereotypical working class community (white trash/hick references), it does an overall good job of showing a class that is regularly ignored.
- The Knights, the opposing team, represent patriarchal capitalistic ideology and are depicted in a negative manner. For example, the Knights are made-up of only boy players and the coach devalues girl athletes by advising the coaches to “lose the girls” when he sees the Big Green soccer team. Additionally, the Knights wear expensive uniforms and their coach believes that winning is most important (even if it means trying to get a person deported).
- Kate’s father is depicted as a small town, small minded person with an alcohol addiction in which he cares mostly about alcohol and little about his daughter. Additionally, he says many racist remarks such as “it’s hard to believe that Mexican kid’s the star” when he is discussing Juan’s soccer abilities. At the end of the film, Kate’s father seems to have changed his behaviors for the better, realizing that he had neglected his daughter as a result of losing his job and turning to alcohol.
Keywords: sports, the big green, race, gender, body, 3 paws, three paws, disney, film, review, family, comedy,