‘Back of the Net’ - what can one say about it; is it a bad film? Yes, but it just kind of floats by, doesn’t provoke much emotion, it's just kind of... there for 90 minutes.
Cory (Sofia Wylie, TVs 'Andi Mack' and 'High School Musical: The Musical') is a massive science nerd and her parents are sending her to Australia for a science cruise (you know, science cruises, what all the kids are doing these days). When she gets off the plane, she accidentally gets on the bus for soccer camp, which mean she’s off the boat and on the field. Throw in a love interest, an underdog story and a bully, and you’ve got yourself a movie.
So ‘Back of the Net’ was filmed in my home town, Wollongong, and there has been a lot of talk about it. When it was being filmed, a lot of people I know were asked to be extras, a Disney Channel star arriving in Wollongong was all over the newspaper... it was a big deal for a hot minute. I was always curious about the film; it’s always cool to see where you live on film and I kind of love watching those terrible TV teen sports films, like last year's ‘Going for Gold’. Overall, the film is fine - for the demographic it doesn’t provoke much, they will laugh at the lame jokes, they might take away a lesson or two, but it never goes above an Australian movie that will be on Prime (Channel Seven for you non-regional Australians) at 1pm after Saturday Disney (that's still on, right?).
On the Wollongong note, the film really doesn’t have anything to do the city at all, for all the press about how the film couldn’t be made anywhere else and how Wollongong was vital to the story, the city is never even mentioned once. One thing that bugged me is the spacing out of the city (they really only use the University of Wollongong for everything) - when she arrives to "Sydney" airport, they have just put some signs up at one of UOWs offices, but then she hops on a bus which drives on Sea Cliff Bridge, about an hour away from the Uni, only to arrive back at the Uni, which they then use for the soccer camp. If you don’t know the area it's fine, you might think the airport set looks cheap, but living here my whole life there where a few moments like this that bugged me.
Overall, the film is fine for the demographic. They will laugh at the lame jokes, they might take away a lesson or two, but it never goes above an Australian movie that will be on Prime at 1pm after Saturday Disney.
The filmmaking for the most part is on par with an ABC pre-teen show, but there was one scene that was just a mess. They go to the beach and have a camp fire and oh my, what a disaster. To make the crackle of the fire, they were doing a combination of turning lights on and off and moving cardboard up and down over them, it was so distracting. Still, I’ve seen a lot worse in Australian films, ‘The BBQ’ and ‘Going for Gold’ have many more technical problems than ‘Back of the Net’.
The acting is fine, the kids weren’t particularly annoying, but it’s not like they where amazing actors or thing; they were just below that Disney Channel/Nickelodeon quality. The real standout for me was Kate Box ('Riot', TVs 'Offspring') as Coach Smith who actually had a lot of really funny lines and you could tell she was having fun.
Overall, ‘Back of the Net’ is fine if all it wants to do is amuse pre-teen girls for 90 minutes before they forget about it, but it never goes above that. It doesn’t succeed as cinematic film, nor is it so bad that it’s good; it’s mediocrity at its finest.