From the Video Shop: Two Inspiring Football (Soccer) Movies

Neil Turner

The Game of Their Lives (DVD title: The Miracle Match)

  • 2005 - United States - 101 minutes
  • Writers - Geoffrey Douglas and Angelo Pizzo - from a book by Douglas
  • Director - David Anspaugh
  • My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

Goal! (aka: Goal! The Dream Begins)

  • 2005 - United States - 118 minutes
  • Writer - Adrian Butchart - from a story by Mike Jefferies
  • Director - Danny Cannon
  • My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

These two films about the world's most popular sport - one based upon fact and the other a grand romantic inspiration - are both good, solid entertainment.

As you see from the ratings above, I disagree with Mr. Ebert and the general public as to the quality of The Game of Their Lives. It is the story of a soccer team formed in 1950 to represent the U.S. at the World Cup matches. They extraordinarily defeated the highly rated, and far more experienced and professional, English team. There is no great drama, no exceptional acting - just solid performances. The narrative is told almost in documentary style. The atmosphere of the film genuinely evokes that period after WWII in which young men who were soldiers are ready to settle down and get on with calm, productive lives. The scenes of the soccer action are easy to follow, and the depiction of the pivotal game is clear and exciting. The only fault to the DVD is that it does not have any special feature that tells about the real players. The viewer gets to see some of the real players at the end of the film, but I yearned for more. I found Game to be a simply told, straight-forward story of an important event in United States sports and well worth the time.

Goal! is over-all a much more enjoyable film. It is the highly romanticized tale of a young Mexican who was reared in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant whose great passion is soccer. He is seen playing a local game by a man who used to play professional football in England. After some wheeling and dealing, the young man is given a chance to try out with the Newcastle football team. From there, follows a predicable but entertaining tale of this young man's life. Predicable, but still highly entertaining due to great production values and very likeable stars. An extra feature on the DVD gives you further insight as to what football actually means to the citizens in such a place as Newcastle.

If you like good, solid sports movies, I recommend these two.

See all of my reviews at -

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Harvard Square Commentary, September 18, 2006