Review: 12 Mighty Orphans (Tribeca 2021)

Home » Review: 12 Mighty Orphans (Tribeca 2021)


While cliché and formulaic from beginning to end, 12 Mighty Orphans is an inspirational feel-good film that features a career-best performance from Luke Wilson and a story that will have you cheering.

The film, based on the true story, follows Wilson’s character as he and his family arrive at the Mason Home orphanage where he is not only a teacher, but tasked with forming a football team. Taking place during the Great Depression, the team of orphans left behind by their parents would go on to inspire not only the state of Texas, but the entire country. Oh, and for you football fans, the team is credited with running the first spread offense. Wilson has truly never been better, convincingly bringing Rusty Russell to life and serving as a leader to the group of young men. He is accompanied by Martin Sheen as the orphanage’s doctor, a man who sees the potential of the team and serves as the assistant coach, all the while drinking a bit too much. Sheen clearly had a lot of fun in the role, something that has not been seen from him in quite sometime. The ensemble cast as a whole delivers wholesome, emotional performances, especially each of the young actors portraying the orphans who bring the viewer into their pain and struggles.

12 Mighty Orphans is a film that you cannot help but feel good about after watching; the young men go from being down and out to finding common purpose, developing hope, establishing a work ethic, and persevering through horrendous hardship. The result is self-confidence, belief in themselves, and the trust of one another, key skills that go on to influence each of them as they live their lives (as seen in the credits). Aside from the film utilizing unnecessary flashbacks to wartime to give more depth to Wilson’s character, director Ty Roberts delivers a surprisingly solid film, perhaps the surprise of the summer, and a truly special tale of of channeling hardship into motivation. 12 Mighty Orphans is just what the doctor ordered.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from Tribeca

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