Late one night on Netflix, I found this Emirati football comedy from the UAE (United Arab Emirates). When I started watching Red Card (Kart Ahmar), I was quickly confused. I hadn’t had any exposure to Arab humor, and given how conservatively Islam is portrayed in the media, I had assumed that Arabs don’t laugh much. I used to think that about Germans too, but I was wrong.
Soccer, football, and Fußball movies meant to be funny
I came upon this old BBC TV movie by chance on Amazon Prime. By the description, it didn’t seem like a soccer movie, but it turns out that the first 30 minutes deliver trope after trope of non-league football from the touchline in 1990s Bristol, England.
Looking for something a little different to watch? Classico is a cute mash-up of comedy and a little romance in the context of a rivalry between ultra but nice football supporters.
Bravo for ‘Las Bravas FC’ (2022)
It’s a shame that shows like Las Bravas F.C. get so little traction and attention in the world of futbol. It’s a cute, entertaining series that abounds with examples and themes of diversity, inclusion, and female footballer role models. Lead actor Mauricio Ochmann is a popular telenovela star with a charisma that echoes Ryan Reynolds and with an unnerving resemblance to Mikel Arteta. But I only came across this enjoyable series while scrolling through HBO Max. So I suggest you watch it while you can.
Credit this film for its high quality and unusual story. Despite a lengthy 2 hours and 47 minutes, I did not check my watch while viewing Jaadugar (जादूगर). The story is well-shot and well-edited, and it deftly weaves together a tale of romantic comedy, football, and magic. In addition, I was entranced by the brilliant smile of its star, Jitendra Kumar, who plays Meenu, an extremely goal-oriented young man whose dreams are tied to the soccer pitch, but not in a way you expect.
The Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso has had such a cultural impact, it calls for a separate review for its second season. Season One arrived as an antidote to a toxic presidency and a worldwide pandemic. Coach Ted Lasso was quoted from the pulpit of my local Presbyterian church, in whose congregation almost no one follows soccer.
Rovers is a thoroughly enjoyable comic series that only ran one season for 6 episodes. Director and star Craig Cash has a history of comedic series and successes, and it’s a shame that this show didn’t run longer.
‘Rembat’ (2015) funny the 2nd time around
The pandemic may have altered my sense of taste — in movies. When I first tried to watch Rembat 2 years ago, I could not finish it. It seemed so weird and nonsensical, and the actors kept spitting rice everywhere.
Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz is not really a soccer movie. This 1974 film from the East German director Konrad Wolf is about a sculptor (Kurt Böwe) in a small town, who gets a commission to create a monument for the local football stadium. Since the artist is fairly well known, the local authorities hope such a public artwork will help increase game attendance.
There are so many reviews of this Apple TV+ original series, there isn’t much for me to add. Well, except for that bit about hating the ending. But let me start by saying Ted Lasso is one of few things that I can be thankful for this year, outside of my family and friends. This ensemble piece gives us characters that we care about and watch develop over 10 episodes. It’s almost heartbreaking that we have to wait until next year for season 2.
As an American, I sometimes have a terrible time understanding British humor. The Bromley Boys is one such case. Which in this year of 2020 is quite sad, because I really need cheering up.** Having enjoyed the youtube series Seaside Town by Warren Dudley, I expected his screenplay for The Bromley Boys to be equally fun.
With a box office of $367M, Hello Mr Billionaire would be the most successful soccer movie yet. If it were really a soccer movie. But regardless, this comedy demonstrates the power of Chinese films in the Chinese market. In 2018, TheNumbers listed it at #27 worldwide, but if listed in the 2019 international BoxOfficeMojo ranking, Hello Mr Billionaire would be #25, right after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The Great Game is a return to an innocent time and it makes — as Bill, Ted, or Wayne would say — a most excellent escape from the pandemic. It’s hard to believe the story is 70 years old, because it is almost timeless and still entertaining.
The problem with Shooting for Socrates is that the football is really a backdrop for writing a feel good story about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And while sport as metaphor is the motivation for many soccer movies, in this case, the film doesn’t find its chemistry and feels like oil and water. Categorized as both drama and comedy, the film feels like neither.
Nefta Football Club stands out as being the second*** soccer movie to win an Oscar nomination (that I know of). Nominated in the 2020 Best Live Action Short Film category, Writer-Director Yves Piat has created a visually stunning and engaging short that leads to a whimsical but virtual punch line.