Review: Bobby (2016)

Bobby (2016)

The documentary Bobby (aka Bo66y) is a tribute film to Bobby Moore, who captained England to its only World Cup title in 1966. The film was produced by BBC and Sky sports presenter Matt Lorenzo to coincide with the 50th anniversary. 

I appreciated this film because as an American fan, I had no idea who Bobby Moore was. The film cleared that up for me, with good football footage and player testimonials extolling Moore’s ability, intelligence, and calmness on the pitch. For example, despite being nicknamed Tubby as a child, and despite not being the fastest or most skilled, early in his career he was recognized for his ability to see the game and know where everyone was on the field. 

The film also portrays Moore as a beloved family man, but one who carried his burdens privately. He won the World Cup despite suffering testicular cancer just 3 years earlier. He entered numerous business relationships, some with disastrous outcomes. He died at age 51, just a week after announcing he had been fighting colon cancer for 2 years.

Post his demise, this film and many articles decry Moore’s treatment and how he was so sadly overlooked by English Football. Nowadays, the media looks back on him as a true role model. Writes Tony Parsons in 2017:

“Bobby Moore was the perfect England captain, because he embodied the best of England – dignity, restraint, and a quiet kind of courage. He had the strength that never needs to raise its voice..”

Pelé in 2015 on the toughest defender he ever faced:

“man to man, the best was Bobby Moore. No doubt.”

I was surprised to learn that Moore played in NASL, first for the San Antonio Thunder, and then the 1978 season for the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders had quite a relationship with West Ham, starting with hiring Jimmy Gabriel as a coach. This led to signing Harry Redknapp as player/assistant, who recruited Moore, Geoff Hurst and others.

I also enjoyed the film’s reference to the movie Victory. I didn’t know any of the players used in that film, other than Pelé. But seeing a shot from Victory with Bobby Moore in the background, I remembered his big burly blondness had stood out from the rest of the crew.

A short video interview of Producer Matt Lorenzo provides some interesting insights into the making of the documentary. In my research, I’ve noticed that documentaries typically take 2-4 years to come to fruition. And an independent feature film can easily cost $1 million to make, promote and distribute. I always wonder why movies get made because they have almost no chance of returning any profit.

Lorenzo’s father, Peter Lorenzo, was a football journalist who was good friends with the star. When asked if making this film was worth it, Producer Lorenzo replied,

“Was it worth it? Yes, incredibly stressful but worth it all the way along. And now that it’s finished, they can’t take it away from me. It means so much… The last image is of my dad… It’d be even more worth it if I can pay myself back.”

Lorenzo and Director Ron Scalpello cover Moore’s post-playing career or lack thereof. An icon rightfully revered as one of the first football celebrities, Moore was instead denied little managerial opportunities and ignored by the English FA. Fans would like to see Bobby Moore knighted. People often ask why this hasn’t happened. 

The sobering part of my research was learning more about the flip side of Bobby Moore. His first marriage fell apart after his wife discovered a clandestine 5-year affair, which had started after his NASL career. This 2005 article discussed the “dodgy” aspects of his East End business dealings and associations, and questioned why someone torched Bobby’s two pubs (“a personal arsonist?”). Perhaps this is why the FA did not utilize him after retirement from playing.

Today, perhaps all such transgressions can be more easily overlooked. Or perhaps the standards for heroism are getting even higher. In today’s political environment, it’s hard to tell who can become, and remain, a hero.

In English

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6