Jack Davis (Taylor Gray) finds himself adrift after his father, the legendary Coach Davis (Kelsey Grammar), cuts him from his renowned soccer club, the Carolina Mantis. Estranged from his father, at odds with his brother, Mantis All-Star goalie Sam (Adam Aalderks), and desperate for purpose, Jack turns to his ex-girlfriend Sophia (Ally Brooke). Jack is inspired by her tough love and unwavering pursuit to become a recording artist. He tackles his depression and takes one last shot at his lifelong dream by trying out for a rival soccer club. Can Jack finally prove that he is worthy of his dad’s love?  Can he forgive and believe in second chances? High Expectations is the film debut for pop singer Ally Brooke (formerly of the girl group Fifth Harmony). Brooke performs the title track for the movie.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “High Expectations is an inspirational drama about perseverance and chasing your dreams. It is also a lesson in holding tight to family and the importance of nurturing those relationships.” Heather S. adds, “This movie is very relatable. Many viewers will see themselves in Jack, a young adult who second guesses himself and never seems to do anything right. Jack has trouble finding his place in the world and proving his worth to everyone, including his own parents.” Kyla C. adds, “If you’re in search of a family drama or sports movie, High Expectations has it all. The storyline is fantastic, with many relatable characters and experiences, and a few important themes expressed throughout the story.” And SaniyaRain F. wraps it with, “The message of High Expectations is that you should never give up on your dreams. Never give up on love. And never give up on your family. There is some language that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.” See their full reviews and talent interviews below.

High Expectations

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

High Expectations is an inspirational drama about perseverance and chasing your dreams. It is also a lesson in holding tight to family and the importance of nurturing those relationships.

Jack Davis (Taylor Gray) is adrift in life and afraid to pursue his goals. He loves soccer and has dreamed of playing professionally for his father, the legendary Coach Davis (Kelsey Grammar) who also owns the Carolina Mantis soccer team. Jack was cut from the team before he ever played a professional game while his older brother Sam (Adam Aalderks) has become the team’s All-Star goalie. Jack has always played in his brother’s shadow both on and off the field and their relationship has resulted in many of his insecurities. Jack turns to his ex-girlfriend Sofia (Ally Brooke) for support, and her thoughtful, and, at times, tough love, helps him overcome his lack of confidence and direction.

This really is an ensemble cast put together by Russell Boast and Debi Manwiller, and I enjoyed the interaction between all of the different groups within the movie. The importance of family is felt in the large Davis clan headed by Kelsey Grammar who has some difficult and emotional scenes with Taylor Gray. The relationships between the brothers and other family members also seem very real. In addition to the familial relationships, there is also the support of his social groups such as team members and coaches, as well as his tight circle of friends. Pop singer Ally Brooke, who plays his love interest Sofia, is an inspiring recording artist in the film, and I enjoyed the scenes where her music inspires him—she performs the title track for the movie as well. Another interesting fact is that Brianna Scurry (Coach Scurry) who portrays the first-ever female head coach of a professional men’s soccer team is also a legendary U.S. Goalkeeper, World Cup Champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

The message of this film is that family is everything. Even if you have very little wealth, if you have the love and support of your family you are blessed with more than real gold. Another important message in this film is to have grit and show everyone what you’re made of. Don’t accept other people’s expectations regarding your abilities or limits.

I rate High Expectations 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults. High Expectations premieres exclusively in over 850 theaters nationwide on April 7, 2022 for a special one-night-only event with Fathom Events. Don’t miss your opportunity to view this uplifting film.

High Expectations

By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

High Expectations is the perfect representation of millennial life! An extremely relatable protagonist and a fan favorite sport will leave you wanting to watch this film again several times.

High Expectations follows Jack Davis (Taylor Gray), a young soccer player who was recently cut from his father’s soccer team. Jack can’t seem to catch a break, especially after his recent breakup with his girlfriend. Jack learns to navigate life as his family expects more of him and he learns to grow into himself.

This movie is very relatable. Many viewers will see themselves in Jack, a young adult who second guesses himself and never seems to do anything right. Jack has trouble finding his place in the world and proving his worth to everyone, including his own parents. After being kicked off his dad’s team, Jack digs deep inside of himself and learns that he only needs his own approval. This speaks to many young adults, and even younger audiences that may feel lost in the word. To see a character that is such a mess learning to take things day by day makes this refreshing and keeps viewers engaged the entire movie. By the end of the film, I wanted to know more about Jack, as if I was his longtime friend. The acting all around is phenomenal. The simplicity of the performances of each actor stands out, making it seem as though we’re watching a reality show, not scripted dialogue. The chemistry Jack and his ex-girlfriend Sofia have is extraordinary. Without revealing too much of their history, we see the tension expressed by the two actors and feel how much Jack is still in love with her.

The message Jack learns is to love and respect himself. Jack struggles with gaining the approval of his friends, his family and especially his father. Once he learns to blaze his own trail and stand up for himself, he’s viewed in a different light.

I give High Expectations 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 15 to 18 plus adults. It is available in theaters April 7, 2022.

High Expectations

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

If you’re in search of a family drama or sports movie, High Expectations has it all. The storyline is fantastic, with many relatable characters and experiences, and a few important themes expressed throughout the story. However, the acting isn’t all it could be, with various characters slightly underdeveloped.

High Expectations follows Jack Davis (Taylor Gray) three years after being cut from his father’s (Kelsey Grammar) Division 1 soccer team. Having always been in the shadow of his star brother, Sam Davis (Adam Aaiderks), Jack longs to prove that he has athletic abilities too. With family issues and romantic conflicts along the way, Jack’s journey to play for the Davis family’s rival team is one entertaining hour and a half.

This film has numerous strong points. The storyline is the best element—it is relatable and realistic, including many aspects of life. Love is portrayed through Jack and his ex-girlfriend, Sofia (Ally Brooke) on their adventure through breakups, proposals and breakups again. Jack’s family issues—though probably more extreme than many viewers’ own experiences—replicate modern familial conflicts. His friendship with Eddie (Tyler Chase) makes for heartwarming segments of the film, when Eddie shows how wonderful a friend he is. Their support for each other, while having plenty of fun, provides a good model for healthy friendships. The sad moments when Jack is having an intense anxiety attack or struggling with anger issues make the film relatable. The locations for the soccer games are well chosen—they show Jack’s transformation from being just a local industrial league player to a professional soccer player. First, he plays on a poor quality grass field with a few bleachers. Later, he’s on a turf field stadium with thousands of seats. The sets provide an easy way to differentiate the two opposites, especially when the plot moves so fast that it’s slightly confusing. While not a clear shortcoming, the acting and character development doesn’t reach the level of the plot. Taylor Gray as Jack has the top performance, excelling at portraying the struggles of anxiety, anger, and dealing with a mostly unsupportive family along with the romance and friendships. For the most part, the rest of the characters aren’t as completely developed by the actors as the writers gave them room to be.

The message of High Expectations is to value the time you have with the people you love. Jack spends years hating his dad, but never gives him a chance to strengthen their father-son bond, until it could be too late. High Expectations reminds us we don’t know what other people are going through and cautions us about making assumptions; and it expresses the theme of resisting drugs. Adults should be aware of some profanity, plus alcohol and drug use, as well as some heavy topics.

High Expectations gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me, and I recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can view High Expectations in participating theaters on April 7, 2022.

High Expectations

By SaniyaRain F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

High Expectations is a suspenseful film, filled with surprises and romance. The film is also great to watch if you are a soccer fan.

High Expectations digs deep into the life of soccer player Jack Davis (Taylor Grey), a man who is trying to find his path in life with a soccer career but keeps getting discouraged along the way. Jack is struggling throughout this time but his best friend Eddie (Tyler Chase) and his ex-girlfriend Sofia (Ally Brooke) help push him to make good decisions so he can conquer the conflicts he has. As time goes along, Jack starts improving himself so he can continue a real career in soccer.

As far as the storyline goes, it’s very relatable. I would find it difficult to live in someone’s shadow and that would block me from who I truly am—which is how Jack feels when compared to his successful brother. My favorite part is the ending when Jack sees his true potential and puts all his work and effort into how he plays his games. I love how this film is relatable to many people and shows the struggles within people’s families and how it affects them. The story’s ending is happy and includes a milestone for Jack to pass, which viewers will see if he does.

The message of High Expectations is that you should never give up on your dreams. Never give up on love. And never give up on your family. There is some language that would be inappropriate for younger viewers.

I give High Expectations 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 16, plus adults. High Expectations is set to premiere in theaters on April 7, 2022.

Keywords: Kelsey Grammar, Ally Brooke, Taylor Gray, U.S. Goalkeeper, World Cup Champion, Olympic Gold medalist, Brianna Scurry, Jonathan Southard, Christopher D. White, Kristinn Thordarson, CDW Films


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