The concept for Gracie was developed by Andrew Shue and director Davis Guggenheim, who were inspired by the true story of the Shue family (Elisabeth and Andrew both act in the film, and Guggenheim is Elisabeth's husband). To honor the family's story, Gracie is earnest and loving, but that doesn't make for a good movie.
The Bowens are a working-class family living in South Orange, N.J., in 1978. Dad (Dermot Mulroney), a former soccer star, is consumed with training his three boys to play his beloved game. Meanwhile, the women in the family, mom (Elisabeth Shue) and Gracie (Carly Schroeder), get shoved to the sidelines. Eldest son Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer) is a high school soccer star with a saintlike devotion to Gracie. A bit of a tomboy (i.e., a soccer star in the rough), Gracie is shut out of her father's backyard training sessions. Boys only.
When Johnny is killed in a car accident, Guggenheim skillfully dramatizes a family coping with loss. But it's all downhill from there. Gracie starts sneaking out at night and wearing short skirts. Her father is so lost in his misery that he remains oblivious to her rebellion, while her mother struggles vainly to keep the family together. Then, in an awkward turn of events, Gracie decides she's going to play soccer in her brother's place, and the film disintegrates into movie-of-the-week predictability.