A Second Chance: Rivals! review – an unsatisfactory family drama

July 26, 2021
Daniel Hart 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
1.5

Summary

While it shines the light on the sport, its release near the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is hardly an inspiring supplement.

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1.5

Summary

While it shines the light on the sport, its release near the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is hardly an inspiring supplement.


This review of the Netflix film A Second Chance: Rivals! contains a minor spoiler. 

With A Second Chance: Rivals! means return of Maddy (played by Emily Morris), who is still in post-rehab due to gymnastic-related injuries. Taking a break, Maddy gets sidetracked into coaching a young gymnastics team in the country. And of course, that comes with challenges; overcoming her past demons while also having the mentoring skills and maturity to guide young girls to victory in the State Championship.

On paper, Netflix’s A Second Chance: Rivals! sounds like an easily consumable sports drama, but from the very start, it bores us with a stale script and unmotivating storyline. It’s hardly an enthralling return of Maddy, who shows little enthusiasm for the industry she partakes in. Luckily, her three proteges (Tessa, Tayla, and Alkira) bring some lift by implementing some youthful energy into the story.

There’s also a strange subplot that felt jaded in its approach. Because Alkira is a minority in the gymnastics team, her mother raises concerns of bias and elements of racism aimed at her daughter due to her annoyance at the way the judges score her. As the film enters the third act, Maddy puts on a strong front to prove to the mother that Alkira is not failing to win due to bias for city girls or racism and that the reason the team is lagging behind so much is that there’s not enough effort.

Now, the reason this subplot is absurd is that it’s delivered terribly. As the audience, you find yourself focusing on whether the judges will down-score Alkira due to her race. I’m also unsure that disproving racism serves as a wonderful subplot about young athletes taking part in championships. It’s also disbelieving that writers could not find it in them to find a better subplot that didn’t involve a well-established young white woman convincing the mother of a minority that racism isn’t a factor. Ironically, racism isn’t a factor in the story arc, hence why it’s just plain weird that the writers tried so hard to make it a thing.

But hey, this is not a review where I go into the social constructs of the story; simply put, A Second Chance: Rivals! is well below par of a quality and satisfactory film. And while it shines the light on the sport, its release near the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is hardly an inspiring supplement.

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