Safety - B
Rated PG, 122 minutes
The inspiring new Disney sports movie "Safety" tells another true story with a sports backdrop that'll have you reaching for tissues by the end of the film. Disney has been using this well-worn yet foolproof formula for many years since the days of Denzel Washington's "Remember the Titans," so it's nothing new, but why mess with a good thing if it still works?
The film tells the story of former Clemson University football safety Ray (Ray-Ray) McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a freshman football player at Clemson who is on a scholarship. However, his scholarship and football career are put in jeopardy when his mother Tonya (Amanda Warren) is unable for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson) and he must become his legal guardian.
The uplifting "Safety" is a story that seems made for movies like this, but McElrathbey's story is a worthy one that's entertaining, appealing to that sensibility that we need a little inspiration in our lives. That wouldn't be far off the mark in a pandemic world, and the film, directed by "Django Unchained" producer Reginald Hudlin and co-written by Mark McKinnon and Nick Santora, does the job just fine.
By the time "Safety" gets to the goal line, you'll be able to spot some predictable elements of the formula: Ray (played by Reeves, who bears a striking resemblance to the real Ray-Ray) has it good, then is beset by problems when he has to take care of his little brother Fahmarr, or Fay (the charming Mixson, who nearly steals the movie), then as things are looking good, more challenges are thrown their way to overcome
Still, there are many timely, familiar messages of family loyalty, overcoming enormous obstacles and helping other in time of need that "Safety" wears proudly. The strong supporting cast is round out by Corinne Foxx as Ray-Ray's love interest, Hunter Sansone as Daniel, Ray-Ray's kind teammate and roommate, Warren as the boys mother and James Badge Dale as an assistant coach with a heart.
The best of these films often come at the film' epilogue, when we see photos and footage of the real brothers, including their appearance on Oprah's talk show, that provide some insight into their story. "Safety," while predictable and far from new, is a heartfelt reminder of the importance of family. It's streaming on Disney+ starting December 11 and is worth a viewing.