“The Way Back” (Warner Bros.)

Ben Affleck and Melvin Gregg star in a scene from the movie "The Way Back." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Richard Foreman, Warner Bros. Entertainment)

By Catholic News Service

Director Gavin O’Connor’s sports drama tells a story of hope and redemption after devastating loss.

When the basketball coach at the Catholic high school he attended suffers a heart attack, a former hoops star-turned-alcoholic-construction-worker (Ben Affleck) reluctantly agrees to take over the program. As he exerts a positive influence on the players (most prominently Brandon Wilson and Melvin Gregg), he finds a new sense of purpose and begins to heal.

The film, penned by Brad Ingelsby, does nothing to break free of the traditional formula of sports movies. Yet Affleck carries the proceedings with able acting and the younger members of the cast, especially Wilson, give believable performances as well. An upbeat tale, though one permeated with off-color dialogue.

Mature themes, including alcoholism, a few instances of profanity, frequent crude and crass language, a vulgar sexual reference. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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