Director David Scheinmann extends Believe beyond the well-worn story of motley kids trying to win a tournament. The film pivots on the parallel story of Coach Matt Busby redeeming his survivor’s guilt.
Many of his young ManU players, known as Busby’s Babes, died in the 1958 airplane disaster in Munich. Sir Matt Busby (Brian Cox acting in his third soccer movie) was severely injured but one of the few survivors. The film United covers this story very well. Believe weaves a purely fictional tale where post-retirement Busby coaches a forlorn neighborhood team whose key talent, Georgie, is a handful.
As a movie for kids, the problem is that the story is more about the coach, the parents, and the tutor. There is a cute sequence where Busby has the team dribble with grapefruit, warning them not to squash his breakfast.
But otherwise, despite his extensive real soccer skills, Georgie is an unsympathetic character. He steals from Busby, his mom, and his tutor. He gives his widowed mom (Natascha McElhone) a lot of lip, and perhaps worst of all, he fails his team by refusing to play because of issues with the adults.
The positives of the film include great cinematography – Director Scheinmann’s professional background includes commercials, photography, and art. The soccer skills of the kids are quite real, and the closing credits identify their club associations. Philip Jackson has a nice repeat performance as a football manager (he was the assistant manager in Mike Bassett: England Manager).
Other than the grapefruit scene, this is not a film I would show children. It is really a drama for adults.
In a video interview for this movie that he recorded with Sandy Busby (Matt’s son), Brian Cox admitted that he is not much of a soccer fan. Darn good actor though.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6