There isn’t a cliché that hasn’t crossed the goalposts in “12 Mighty Orphans,” a sports drama that’s so simple it can be recited without even looking at the page.

Luke Wilson plays Rusty Russell, who coached a high school football team to glory in Texas during the Depression era. Not just any team, mind you, but a bunch of orphans, whose road to the state championships inspires an unlucky nation. Cue the aqueducts.

With the exception of this tale, which appears to be based on other underdog sports tales as much as the actual Mighty Mites story, very little records beyond the near parody of the storytelling and its addiction to too familiar tropes. You can feel the times when you are supposed to cry, but don’t be surprised if tears never come. Think of it as a Kleenex saver.

Russell de Wilson arrives at a Texas orphanage to coach a motley football team that can’t even afford to buy shoes for its players. But all they need is some good old-fashioned inspiration (and shoes, which eventually happen), which will teach them lessons about teamwork that they can wear for the rest. of their life.

As there are only 12 of them, they are forced to play both attacking and defending. And what they lack in size, they make up for in innovation; their extensive attack would have led to the advent of the passing game and various trick games that are still in use today.

Martin Sheen, who plays the alcoholic assistant coach known as Doc, also provides a narration that sounds like it was taped for a greeting card commercial. Meanwhile, the Mites are pitted against not one but two whiny villains: rival trainer Luther Scarborough (Lane Garrison, sporting the worst hairstyle seen on screen in a long time) and twisted orphanage overseer Frank. Wynn (Wayne Knight), both cartoonish in their infamy.

Much of the overcooked sentimentality of the story could be forgiven if at least the action on the pitch was delivered, but that also falls flat. “12 Mighty Orphans” tries so hard to be inspiring that he stumbles on his way to the field. Nice story, but the story is second chain.

“12 Mighty Orphans” is now in theaters.

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