Quiz show fever grips Newfoundland in 1974, when a local team makes it to the final game of Reach for the Top.
The Reach for the Top Team at St. Peter’s has just lost an important game, badly. They’re on the edge of extinction but Vice-Principal Father John Eaton challenges them not only to win the next game, but to make it to the national stage. Their principal, Father Mulcahey, wishes this to be so. The gauntlet has been thrown down, their old coach is ‘on leave’ and librarian Julie Jeffers comes in to turn the ship around. It’s the 25th anniversary of Newfoundland’s Confederation with Canada and Father Mulcahey is determined to prove he’s got the smartest kids in the country. No more ‘goofy Newfies’.
Raymond, Brian, Glen and Charlie are smart young men and Julie puts them to work. She’s recently had a bad breakup and the game is everything to her now. Her friendship with the priest grows with every day. Father John’s world is severe and controlled and his vocation is disappearing. But now he’s part of this exciting venture. And day by day he’s falling in love with Julie. The team knocks down their opponents one by one and the venue for the final championship game is changed to Newfoundland. Quiz show fever builds in the province.
Then, Brian’s girlfriend breaks up with him because he’s a nerd. His wealthy parents have become almost totally absent from his life which makes his feelings of abandonment more painful. When Glen taunts Brian in team practice there’s a fight and Brian quits. They have to bring in the alternate, Peter, a smarmy guy who once kicked Charlie’s beloved dachshund. It’s not a happy team. Glen is angry at his lot in life, and frustrated that his mother won’t let him pursue his musical career. Raymond is trying to deny his East Indian heritage and he’s unable to stand up to the bullies who taunt him. Charlie is secretly living alone with his 17 year old brother and the dachshund, Alfie. They barely have enough to eat. The future looks bleak for the big game that’s now just days away. Will this crowd of underdogs make it to the Top?
Adapted from the oral history by Joan Sullivan. A feature film drama. Written and Directed by Rosemary House. Produced by Mary Sexton. A Smarty Pants Production