Set in the small oil town of Taft, California, 12 year-old Trey Caldwell (Nathan Gamble, “Dolphin Tale”) received a gift from his father for Christmas — a Soap Box Derby car kit. Before they can finish the car, Trey’s dad, an Army Reservist is called to duty in Afghanistan and killed. Trey is left with his mom, the unfinished car and a dream that is all but dead. His teacher puts him together with a friend, Roy Gibbs, a local Fire Chief (Corbin Bernsen) who himself has suffered a great tragedy when his son, a firefighter in New York, was killed on 9/11. In a story of redemption and faith, Trey and Roy embark on a journey of building a soapbox car to compete in the derby. Along the way, they form a strong friendship and learn that together, they can mend old wounds and accomplish more that they could ever imagine.
This is an uplifting story which is nicely portrayed in the film. Trey Caldwell (Nathan Gamble) loses his father in Afghanistan after he had started building a Soap Box Derby car with Trey. Trey and his mother are devastated. A school official matches Trey with a man named Roy Gibbs (Corbin Bersen), a local Fire Chief, who suffered his own personal loss when his son, a firefighter in New York, was killed on 9/11. Roy can’t get over how Trey talks like a grown-up, saying things like, “I’ve been less than stellar since my dad died.” Trey sees a caring man underneath the gruff exterior that Roy presents. In addition, Roy has an attitude toward “America” because he feels let down with the direction the country has taken.
Together, they finish Trey’s car and Trey begins to race in various derbies, getting better as he goes as Roy trains him. Roy won a few derbies himself in the past so knows what he’s doing. They encounter a few bumps along the way, including Roy’s consistent drinking, but Trey persists in opening his eyes to the problem it’s beginning to cause.
This is an awesome movie with terrific themes such as carrying on when life is difficult and being open to new friendships. Trey’s car is named “Faith and Courage”. Nathan Gamble and Corbin Bernsen are terrific as Trey and Roy. What a joy to award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal To this family-friendly movie!