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Produced by Kim Todd; directed by Brad Turner
Atlantis Films in association with the CBC (Sunday Night Productions), 1989. VHS cassette, 45:00 min., $129.00. Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications, Unit #38, 775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L 6M4.

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Christine Jacobs

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

What happens when the gym teacher is asked to coach the "Reach for the Top" team? He chooses a motley group of kids and tells them to appear on time; they'll never get past the first round anyway. Torquil Campbell, Yannick Bisson, Samantha Follows and Richard Chevolleau star in this story of four students who decide to beat the odds, despite being oddballs themselves.

The story takes place during the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey tournament, in which Paul Henderson scored the winning goal. Cameron, the serious student who keeps a picture of Diefenbaker on his wall and idolizes Paul Henderson, is driven to distraction by the frivolity of his fellow competitors Russell, who, because he is Black, has difficulty convincing people that he comes from Cape Breton Island; Mike, the quintessential drop-out; and Cynthia, a hippyish misfit. As they jostle each other, they learn about each other and grow up. To everyone's surprise, they end up liking and respecting each other and they carry off the Toronto championship.

The themes of peer relationships, self-confidence and expectations are well handled. The ages of the students are not clear, but one assumes sixteen to seventeen since one of them, at least, can drive. However, Cameron's father offers him beer several times, and there is a scene where they all get tipsy on homemade wine.

Recommended as an optional purchase for junior high collections.

Christine Jacobs is a freelance indexer in Montreal, Quebec, who for the past five years has indexed films and videos for Film/Video Canadiana

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