Thursday, October 20, 2005

GOAL! Propaganda film for the US

(soccer drama)
GSC and TGV circuits
Time: 121 mins
Rating: * * ½

THE best part of this movie is the opening scene where we see some deft footwork by a young Mexican kid. After that, this rags-to-riches story of footballer Santiago Munez becomes a cliche-ridden effort which has little to excite diehard football fans.

Yes, we have cameo appearances by soccer legends, David Beckham, Zinadine Zidane and Raul and Alan Shearer but these are merely walk-on roles. Blink and you may miss them. Goal! is planned as the first of a trilogy on Munez’s career. It is partly funded by FIFA in a bid to promote the sport in the US.

Kuno Becker (right)

Part Two will see Munez being transferred to Real Madrid and the final segment will have him starring in the World Cup (where the BIG question is whether he plays for Mexico, his country of birth, or for the US, where he grew up in). We can only hope that the next instalments will score points more than this one...

As a boy, Santiago is passionate about football. Like most fans, he has posters and football stuff in his room in a shanty in Mexico. He even risks getting caught by the border guards when he retrieves his precious football while his family steal across to California.

In the US, Munez (Kuno Becker) helps out in his father’s pool-cleaning business and has little time for football. However, he is spotted by a talent scout (Stephen Dillane as Glen Foy) who offers to help him get a try-out for Newcastle United in England.

From here, the fairy tale mode kicks in. Papa (Tony Plana) objects to his fanciful thoughts of becoming a football star, but good ole grandma helps out. In Newcastle, Munez faces a series of ups and downs before he gets to play on the reserve team. The ups includes meeting a pretty nurse named Roz (Anna Friel) whom he manages to date, and getting on the good side of German coach Erik Dornhelm (Marcel Iures).

The ‘downs’ are his asthma problem and a lack of sparkle in his performance. To tug at our heartstrings, there is a subplot about his estrange relationship with his father which gives the story its emotional anchor.

Undoubtedly, lead star Becker gives a good account of himself although most of the action on the field are played by a double. Lending strong support is Alessandro Nivola (as superstar footie Gavin Harris) whose ‘sexploits’ reminds us of George Best’s.

Danny Cannon’s textbook-style directing offers nothing impressive. Also, the pub sequences, where American drinkers gather to watch soccer matches, look rather ‘alien’ and phoney.
As a kick-off to the trilogy, we had expected more nifty football action. And at least a few exciting goals.


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