Review: Goal! The Dream Begins

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  May 12, 2006 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Has there ever been a dreamy sports film about soccer? I can't seem to remember one unless you count Bend It like Beckham but that was about girls in an unprofessional league.

Most famous for directing the 1995 clunker Judge Dredd and now being a part of the stable of directors for CSI, director Danny Cannon headlines a new sports movie about the world's biggest sport, soccer.

The film follows Santiago Munez (newcomer Kuno Becker) as he starts from the barrio of Los Angeles as an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Munez struggles against his overly proud father (Tony Plana) and near poverty.

One day while playing a pickup game, Munez is noticed by Glen Foy (Stephan Dillane), who sees a magic in the young man. Munez isn't sure of his talent but begins to believe Foy's vision.

Foy phones in a favor with the prestigious soccer club Newcastle United in England and promises Munez that if he can get to England he will get a shot at making the team.

Munez struggles to make his dream come true, much to the disappointment of his father. Leaving his life behind, Munez boards a plane and heads to England.

The trials and tribulations that Munez faces as he tries to achieve his dream will test every fiber of his being.

Goal! is basically like every other sports film before it, as a young hero does all he can to make it in the big league. What is different about the film is that it's about soccer and it does a great job of introducing the game to North American audiences, and also the film is tailor-made for soccer fans.

I really liked the performance of newcomer Kuno Becker, who shines in the lead role as the struggling upstart. There are a lot of sequences where the film could be compared to Rocky and those memories only make the film all the more memorable.

The plagues of the film come with how many sports film clichés can you pile into a film. It isn't the fault of the director or the writer, it's just with the genre. Sports films are like romantic comedies â€" we have seen the same thing a million times but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy the journey.

This film has been a phenomenon overseas and two sequels have been greenlit to further explore Munez's role at Newcastle United. So in that case, I guess it's even more like Rocky than I realized. (3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Goal! The Dream Begins opens in North America on Friday, May 12th.

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