Sunday, October 08, 2006


First off, Goal is a movie about football (soccer)... still with me? Ok, lost most of you already I'd imagine, but there are examples of good movies involving football... er... honestly.. and Escape to Victory isn't the only one... I'm almost positive...

Let's be honest, movies featuring sport do tend to be woeful, but movies featuring American sports (generally with a recognisable lead actor playing a coach) tend to do rather well at the box office. 'Any Given Sunday' is a classic example of the sports movie boilerplate, with Al Pacino slumming it to put a massive box office hit under his belt. This may have been the driving reason behind the production of this by-the-numbers, cliche-laden story of a footballer dreaming of the big time, but perhaps the film-makers' ambitious plan of conceiving it as the first part of a trilogy have been put on ice since it flopped quite spectaculary at the box office. Will it recoup some of those losses from dvd sales? Hmm...

The thing is, if you watch sports regularly, you'll know that the fantastic tales of overnight heroes, plucked from obscurity, and coming on to score in the last minute of the world cup final on their debut (sic) are really quite rare, actually. And if you watch football, you'll know that for every ninety minutes of exhibition football from a team like Barcelona or Arsenal, the majority rarely conjure up the magic moments that make you love the sport, and Newcastle United definitely fall into the majority. But the thing about being a football supporter is, it's the misery of all the mundane moments that make the special ones worthwhile... and this does not for good cinema make!

So thankfully Goal is not about being a football supporter. It does however, portray the story of Santiago (Kuno Becker) is a hard-working mexican immigrant living in L.A., who is spotted playing for a park team by a holidaying former Newcastle United player named Glenn Foy. Foy uses his connections to get Santiago (or Santy, as he is strangely called throughout the movie) a trial with Newcastle United... will he get a contract? Will he get into the first team? Yadda yadda yadda.

The thing about all this is, there are very few surprises with Goal. If he had failed in his trial, the movie wouldn't have quite the same level of interest. However, for all the cliches it employs, (and there are so many on offer here, including, and I quote: 'jumpers for goalposts, oooh, that's what it's all about lad') Goal does a decent job at portraying the action on-field, and these are probably the best moments in the film. Anna Friel also has a half-decent supporting turn as a Geordie nurse (the best kind!) and cameos from Becks, Zizou and Raul add a little pzazz to proceedings. Also, the crew appear to have had pretty much total access to the Newcastle squad, facilities, and stadium, so Kieron Dyer manages to make his big-screen debut here, sending shockwaves around Hollywood I imagine. (sorry, that's a football joke, and a bad one)

So, honestly, there were moments in Goal that, at some fundamental level I enjoyed. Well, let's face it, as a football fan I'm firmly ensconced in the target market for this movie. But wait! Don't for a minute let yourself think that I thought this was a good film! Fans of football may enjoy parts of it, cos Steven Gerrard's in it like, but, almost anyone else should avoid it, because it's very predictable and very very silly.

Verdict: Soppy cliched footie story, although the action is quite well filmed.
Rating: 5/10

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