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'Crossing the Line' Gets Title Right

July 15, 2002|SCOTT SANDELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

I have a confession: I am male and have been inveterately so since conception more than 34 years ago. So when it comes to Lifetime, whose slogan is "Television for Women," I might not be the ideal gender to judge its original movie, "Crossing the Line," premiering tonight at 9.

Yes, the two-hour film is about sports. It's about competition, overzealous parents and violence. These are all things I understand. It also has a worthy message: Fathers and mothers should let their kids enjoy the spirit of play rather than pressuring them to win at all costs.

So why must the film distract from this by making every man a raging lunatic? Perhaps it's because that is what we've come to expect from Lifetime: Men behaving badly. Woman, thy name is rationality.

The voice of reason tonight is Laura Mosbach, who arrives in the small town of Hankston, Mich., to serve as assistant coach on the high school's Lady Warriors basketball team. Laura (Terry Farrell) is trying to make a fresh start as a divorced mom with a 10-year-old son, after a playing career cut short by injury.

It's not long before she runs into Eric (Adrian Pasdar), a divorced dad whose daughter is a promising hoopster. Eric is such a hunk that Laura can, at least in part, overlook his testosterone-laden pushing of his daughter.

No such luck for the far older and less attractive Coach Holliday (Lawrence Dane). She butts heads with this Bob Knight-marish guy, until he conveniently has a slo-mo heart attack, thrusting her as interim head coach into a viper pit of bloodthirsty parents. The worst of them are fathers, save for one mother, and you get the sense she's involved mainly because of her highlight-reel-assembling husband.

Is this fair? It wasn't long ago that the "hockey dad" trial made news but as a rink rat myself, I would argue that there are as many "figure-skating moms" as there are "hockey dads."

"Crossing the Line" is an entertaining but average cautionary tale that deserves a foul for creating gender stereotypes where there needn't have been.

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