Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Sundays, I will be reviewing the made-for-television movies that used to be a primetime mainstay. Today’s film is 1983’s Quarterback Princess. It can be viewed on YouTube!
Quarterback Princess begins with Ralph Maida (Don Murray) dropping in on the coach of a high school football team in the small town of Minnvile, Oregon. Ralph explains that he and his family are going to be relocating to the town from Canada. His eldest child wants to play football and Ralph is curious as to when the team will be holding the tryouts. The coach asks what position Ralph’s son plays. Ralph explains that Tami is his daughter and she plays quarterback. After an awkward moment of silence, the coach explains that he’ll have to talk to the school board.
Yes, Quarterback Princess is one of those films. It’s an only girl on the team film, in which an athletic teenager has to convince not only her male teammates but also all of the stodgy old people that she can play just as well as the boys. On the one hand, films (and shows, as Degrassi had an entire storyline about Jane trying to get on the school’s football team) like this are usually entertaining because it’s fun to watch a girl succeed while all of the men sputter with outrage until the team starts winning. On the other hand, they’re always a little bit difficult for me to relate to because I would honestly have no interest in doing what Tami’s doing and it’s hard for me to understand why anyone else would either. I mean, seriously why would anyone want to live in Oregon when Montana’s just a short drive away?
Quarterback Princess is based on a true story. In real life, Tami Maida was 14 year old when she joined her high school football team as their quarterback. That season, the team had a record of 7-1 and they won the state championship. Tami was also elected Homecoming Queen that seem year. The parts of the movie that seem like the type of thing that only a screenwriter could come up actually happened. Helen Hunt, who was 20 years old at the time, plays Tami. When I watched the film, I thought Hunt did a good job in the scenes off field but I thought she was a bit unconvincing when she was actually playing the game and throwing the ball. Fortunately, I did some research before I actually wrote this review and I discovered that Tami served as Helen Hunt’s stand-in during the film and, in most of the game scenes, that actually is Tami throwing the ball and running around the field. That shows you how much I know about football.
Quarterback Princes is definitely a made-for-television production. These are the only high school football players in existence who neither drink nor curse. For that matter, the coaches are surprisingly nice as well. That said, it isn’t bad. The best scenes are the ones that feature Tami and her family adjusting to Tami’s sudden fame. Daphne Zuniga gives a sympathetic performance as Tami’s sister, who is not particularly happy about how Tami’s sudden fame has changed everyone’s lives. The always likable John Stockwell plays Tami’s boyfriend and the two of them are a believable couple. Noel Black, who also directed Pretty Poison, does a good job of keeping the action moving at a steady pace. Probably the worse thing you can say about this film is that it was a bit predictable but, in this case, all of the predictable stuff actually happened so what can you do?