Remember the Goal is a 2016 film from “Five and Two Pictures.” I’m not 100% sure what the film is, at times it is a movie you’d watch at your religious cousin’s house and other times it’s a movie you’d watch during Sunday School. At very few times does it deviate from that.
Watch the trailer below and try to make out what this is about:
However, I am 100% sure what the film is about. It is centered around a high school cross country team at an all-girls Christian private school. The team is coached by a recent college graduate with no experience in the sport. It stars Allee Sutton Hethcoat, who you may know as Miss Tennessee 2017 or a lawyer from the Nashville School of Law, as Courtney Smith-Donnelly – the coach of the team and frequent clipboard holder.
Hethcoat actually does a fine job with what she’s given, although to be fair, she doesn’t run in this movie, which kills most acting roles in other films (Emily Blunt in “Girl On The Train” comes to mind). But she does a nice job coordinating running outfits. It’s an aesthetic that says “I’m going to go on a run and I think this is what runners wear” without crossing into the calf sleeve/arm-warmer/sassy trucker hat trifecta that so many newcomers treat as the uniform.
While at very few points in the film would I consider “Remember the Goal” to be “good” or “worth my time,” I did end up finishing the film (which as of this writing is currently streaming on Hulu).
I then watched it again, and again, and again.
At this point, I start feeling like I should be on Twitter subtweeting people who don’t like the film and say that they don’t get it. It is as if “Remember the Goal” is a Star Wars movie (and actually good). I’ve watched the film with runners, with non-runners, loved ones and by myself wearing headphones so no one knew I was watching it again. Does this make me an expert on this film? No, but it does make me too familiar with it not to talk about it.
The movie opens with Coach Smith-Donnelly meeting her team for the first time and boy oh boy are things tense. The entire team is returners because the middle school team wasn’t good (I think they’re setting up for the prequel “Before the Goal”) so the girls already all know each other. I can’t tell if the filmmakers went this route because it gets rid of a “get to know the new kid” storyline and saves them time in the limited 88-minute runtime or because they’re trying to continually push that the coach is an outsider. It’s most likely the latter option, as this scene contains the same shot of two girls looking at each other skeptically four times.
Yes, I promise you those are four different shots. This is traditionally a technique used in student films and porn that generally shows that the director said, “We only have one camera and if I don’t leave it in the same place, it’ll look weird so after this is over. I just want to film you making different expressions.”
What’s weird about this group treating Smith-Donnelly as an outsider is that she is A) blonde, B) white, C) attractive, and D) obviously faith-based. White people usually trip over themselves for this combo, regardless of actual quality (Taylor Swift’s new album), but for point of the plot, they shun Smith-Donnelly.
At this point, Smith-Donnelly clarifies the girls are running a 5K and then asks how far that is. As you’ll see by the big reveal at the end of the movie, her not knowing makes absolutely no sense. I acknowledge that I probably just blew the reveal for you, but I will stand my ground that this reveal is not good enough to be ruined. Immediately after clarifying how far a 5k is (three point one miles) Smith-Donnelly then rattles off a list of facts about last year’s state meet. Those of you upset at me for ruining the reveal, fuck off, cause the script just ruined the reveal being plausible literally 10 seconds after hinting at it. If she knows so much about the state meet, how did she not know that 5K is 3.1 miles? This was a bit upsetting and I realize that I’ve walked out of theaters for less, but I decided to stick it out. (I walked out of the movie “Stealth” because the big opening action sequence was shown to be pretend. I also would’ve walked out of the film “Suicide Squad” but I was on a plane and the PC police flight attendants wouldn’t grant me the sweet release of 39,000 feet of atmosphere.)
We also learn that Eastern Valley is the best team in the state. This makes them the bad guys. With the exception of weed and dating when you’re in your teens, Eastern Valley is as bad as it gets in this film – which is to say we never hear much more about them. After having the girls commit to wanting to win the state meet (take a wild guess what happens at the end of this movie) she sends them on a 30-minute run.
The first running scene of the movie serves two purposes: 1) to show the credits and 2) to show how far ahead Kristen (the sassy girl in orange) is compared to the rest of the group. Overall, I rate the running in this scene as 1500 out of 1607 because the form is awful, but the film is about high school runners so I give them a pass. A big knock on this scene is the girls don’t appear to be doing anything except running an indiscriminate path around a soccer field and that would get pretty boring. I get that they probably chose this due to their budget, but on moral grounds, I don’t agree with the premise of doing 30 minutes in a circle while the coach watches. This isn’t a 10k (which is immoral and wrong and shouldn’t exist).
Kristen and Coach Smith-Donnelly have a bit of a disagreement as Kristen probably ran “too fast” and if that was her easy pace, it doesn’t make sense why she didn’t win state. I’m not going to take sides in this debate, but I am going to say that Kristen finished maybe 30 seconds ahead of the group, a seemingly implausible distance given her early lead/way too small of a gap for a coach to be upset about. At this point, I felt myself taking Kristen’s side, but that’s easy to do given that Smith-Donnelly didn’t know how far 5K is. You’re probably upset too at this point, but I promise you that the movie is just getting started.
We have a quick team meeting to learn everybody’s name because you’re not going to hear any of them for the rest of the movie. We also don’t hear the names of like four girls, but that’s also cause they’re gone after this scene. It’s sort of like the red shirts on Star Trek. Easily expendable and noticeable for being the blandest version of a white person. This is the last practice in the film that actually matters, as most of the rest of them just involve the girls switching shirts and running at the same park.
The next few scenes deal with the girls and various issues with their parents. I’m way too lazy to go through them here in extensive detail but I’ll just sum up what ends up happening:
Kristen and her overbearing dad hate the new coach so Kristen ends up quitting the team. This is the most realistic subplot of the film. That being said, they’re upset about the athletic director at the school hired a “rookie” as if high school cross country teams are used to hiring seasoned vets. Kristen and her dad are obsessed with the old coach “Holloway” who we never meet and he ends up being the track coach when Kristen quits the cross country team. As a side note, I have a feeling that “Holloway” is supposed to be an allegory for the Devil, but I don’t have anything more than a gut feeling telling me that. For that reason, I will treat my theory as canon.
Anna is being pursued by Chase (seen above) who is played by the understudy to the understudy of the guy who played the adopted Weasley brother in the Harry Potter series. Her parents don’t want her to date cause she’s only 15, but he’s totally crushing on her. None of these girls are allowed to date cause they’re all 15. He continually continues to pressure her which leads me to think he is a demon sent by Holloway (the Devil) to tempt her off the path of righteousness.
Her other plot is that her friend has become addicted to weed (aka Holloway’s lettuce) and it’s ruining their friendship. This part of the film has nothing to do with running, but it’s pretty funny cause eventually, Anna is able to get her to quit doing drugs due to a well-written note. If Anna was in charge of the current opioid epidemic, it’d be solved in a week. If Anna was friends with Ray Charles, “Ray” would have been 45 minutes shorter. If Anna goes to a state school for college, her roommate is going to hate her.
Anna is actually sort of the main character as she finds herself in the middle of the fight between Kristen and the coach, the war on drugs and her dad pressuring her into training harder to get a scholarship. He’s a little more vocal with seemingly no idea what he’s talking about, aka the ideal cross-country parent.
Katelyn’s parents are divorced and her dad lives in another town and never comes to watch her run (is he Holloway?). He’s also a doctor or something but eventually shows up at her meet at the end of the movie when Coach Smith-Donnelly buys him a plane ticket (aka salvation?). Katelyn is actually the comic relief of the movie and I thank her for that cause boy, oh boy, did this movie need it.
Rebecca’s mom is mad all the time because Rebecca doesn’t do the dishes and just sits in her bed doing homework all day (sloth aka Holloway’s fig leaf). Rebecca is also jealous of everybody else, probably cause their families put their own dishes away like decent human beings and don’t put them all on the kid who has homework to do.
Coach Smith-Donnelly has a bunch of weird training tips that include buzzwords you’d read when you google “how to coach cross country” but eventually pay off in the end. She has issues with the athletic director (who knows her background but still argues with her). His office is as sparsely decorated as a Brazzers video with a computer monitor that isn’t turned on, a desk and two maps of Israel next to each other. You know, typical stuff for an athletic director’s office.
At the end of the movie, it’s revealed by another coach that Smith-Donnelly is actually a former state champion who ran slow all year and then ran fast at the end of the year. This is all the more impressive given that she didn’t know how far she was running. All the other coaches doubt this tactic, but our guy from FRA Glenwood (who has also directed, starred in, and produced two Super Mario Bros. short films) is sure that Orange Hills Academy has figured out the secret to running – a fact that has slipped the minds of Vern Gambetta, Steve Magness, Jack Daniels, and every other sports performance mind to ever hold a stopwatch.
I’m not going to tell you how this race ends, cause I’m sure you know where it’s headed, but while the team celebrates, it appears as if Coach Smith-Donnelly has gone missing, as if she was never there at all (possibly an angel?). We then end the movie showing the next season where the team is even larger. Coach Smith-Donnelly is there so it turns out she’s just a normal person, which is whatever.
All in all, I will say this isn’t an awful movie or the worst running movie I’ve ever seen. I mean, “Chariots of Fire” still exists. I will say it’s definitely what happens if someone saw the movie “McFarland, USA” and said, “someone could definitely find this by mistake on a streaming platform thinking that it’s something similar to what they like.” While this tactic is becoming more and more common as there is a push for more content (C O N T E N T) on streaming platforms, it continues to work because bozos like me continue to watch it.
It is light on the deeper knowledge and there are several things that fail to make sense with several moments of pure absurdity. It’s nice to have another film on this subject, but it takes too much away from previous works without really showing anything new or unique that makes sense in the context of the setting. But then again, it’s made over a billion dollars in less than a month, so I’m sure I’m wrong about “The Last Jedi.”
“Remember the Goal” was okay. Good enough for a team movie night, bad enough for a bus ride.
My final rating? 10:31 out of 10
Things that I didn’t get to but would have liked to:
- Kristen’s dad being really upset that the coach of the team is a woman and this being brushed over
- “Hey Coach, what do you mean by even pacing?”
- The mini golf scene
- Discount Ron Weasley spending his free time in the parking lot of a all-girls private school
- Eastern Valley’s No. 5 runner blowing up down the stretch at the state meet
- No one recognizes Smith-Donnelly despite her being relatively young and hyphenating her last name
- Why Smith-Donnelly’s husband doesn’t trust her buying plane tickets (is this connected to her not wearing a wedding ring?)
- Why does everyone at this school come from a single parent home?
We’re going to discuss this movie on the next episode of the CITIUS Cinema Podcast. Watch it and email us your thoughts: [email protected]. We’ll be recording the episode next week. Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss out when we drop this episode. The movie is streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Youtube.