Film note: The girl got game

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The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival is known for serving up cinematic offerings from virtually every corner of the globe, so one might expect to see only highbrow, dramatic films. However, the festival features several family-friendly films as well.

Max Minsky and Me is screening as part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival on April 26 at St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. For information and tickets ($9), see mspfilmfest.org.


The German film Max Minsky and Me tells the simple story of a brainiac 13-year-old wanting to join her school’s basketball team. The film falls under the festival’s category of “Childish Films,” and it’s a terrific selection for children 8 or 9 and above, but it’s told with enough maturity and humor that even an adult or parent will be entertained.

To rate and comment on Max Minsky and Me and every other film in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, see tcdailyplanet.net/filmfest.

The film centers around quick-witted, always-thinking (you can practically see the wheels turn in her head) Nelly Sue Edelmeister, a girl who’s just trying to navigate the trials and tribulations of early adolescence: doing well in school, her upcoming Bat Mitzvah, boys, and dealing with the “it” girls who clearly have it out for her. When Nelly learns that the basketball team has two open positions for its upcoming trip to Luxemburg (to meet Prince Edouard!), she decides to ignore the naysayers who tell her she’ll never learn basketball.

Nelly is able to find a coach: basketball player Max Minsky, a teenage slacker who shines on the court but doesn’t exactly excel at school. What follows isn’t just the smart deal they work out with one another—Max teaches Nelly how to shoot and dribble the ball, and Nelly does Max’s homework—but the evolution of a complex friendship and support system between two teenagers who support other when no adult seems to.

The movie is cute, clever, and teaches a life lesson without coming across preachy or heavy-handed. What makes it work is the character of Nelly. She’s a respectable, determined girl who knows how to shrug off the popular girls—and yet she’s real enough that when her response to an adult is a simple “whatever” accompanied by an obligatory eye roll, you know it’s not inspired by disrespect, but rather by the simple fact that she’s a teenager.

Among the many films offered throughout the festival, Max Minsky and Me is a great selection for parents wanting to bring their children to the festival. This film demonstrates that all teenagers—whether living in Germany, America, or anywhere else on the planet—share the same struggles, hopes, and dreams as they try to figure out who they are.

Stephen Sporer works at Macalester College in St. Paul and has reviewed films for KTFM, San Antonio’s most popular radio station. He recently moved to the Twin Cities from New York, where he studied theater at Sarah Lawrence College as well as acting and singing at a wide range of venues.

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