Soccer cannot unite the world. But for a few hours, the motivation to watch a game allows people to set aside their differences. La Gran Final is a triptych of disappearing cultures joining with the modern forces that swallow them, to watch, with ebullient shared enthusiasm, the 2000 World Cup Final of Germany versus Brazil.
Don’t be put off by the opening scene of Looking for Eric, where Eric the postman tries to kill himself by driving on the wrong side of a roundabout. Stay for the ride, because this movie is a comedy-drama with an outrageous feel-good ending.
A few years after making Bossa Nova, Bruno Barreto directed this Brazilian comedy, O Casamento de Romeu e Julieta, which is another, even better, soccer date movie.
After watching a slew of soccer movies, I reopened my Shaolin Soccer DVD. I liked it 10 years ago, but now I recognize how inventive the movie is. A group of penniless former Shaolin monks rekindle their love of kung fu by applying it to soccer.
Burt Reynolds’ The Longest Yard is one of my favorite movies, and Mean Machine is almost as good. This British soccer version, starring former EPL player Vinnie Jones, stays pretty close to the original story.
With absurdist humor, Chileano Writer-Director Nicolás López delivers a Southpark-like tale in El Crack. Freddy, who calls himself Mr. Fantasia, fancies himself a top forward with fame in his future. But the only reason he gets any playing time is because his wife murders his competitors.
Johan is a very enjoyable dramedy/romance that, in a gentle way, shows that soccer is just a game, even in the Netherlands. The youngest in a family of 11 soccer-obsessed Dutch boys and their father, Johan doesn’t fit in because his obsession is music.
This German soccer movie, Guys and Balls, is predictable but very cute. Ecki, a small-town goalkeeper and baker, is kicked off his semi-pro team for being gay. In defiance, he organizes an all-gay team to play against his former team in their home stadium, resulting in a nice strike against homophobia.
You don’t expect much to happen in a Buddhist monastery. So it is not surprising that Phörpa (The Cup) is very slow paced. A spirited young soccer-obsessed monk defies the monastery’s way of life in order to watch World Cup 1998. But the abbot, although he does not understand why men fight over a ball for a cup, eventually accepts that Buddhism can coexist with football, and the boys scramble for the funds to rent a satellite dish and TV before the final.
The Match is a sweet spin on the underdog theme. The story is set in a picturesque Scottish village, the teams represent two pubs in a 100-year competition, and this is the year that winner takes all.
Ladybugs is the first soccer movie to make me laugh all the way through! Chester knows nothing about soccer, but he volunteers to coach the boss’ daughter’s team in the hopes of getting a long-deserved promotion.
The first time I saw Soccer Mom on cable, I didn’t like it. The soccer was bad, and the makeup for Missi Pyle—who masquerades as a famous male Italian footballer in order to coach her daughter’s team—was so unbelievable it was distracting.
Variously named as the The Art of Soccer with John Cleese or the Art of Football from A to Z, it appears this made for TV film was commissioned by Germany for World Cup 2006. John Cleese pontificates on 26 alphabetical aspects of the game.
Although Will Ferrell often plays a psychotic jerk, he is really a jock who majored in sports broadcasting at USC. Maybe that’s why so many of his movies have a sports theme. Kicking & Screaming is his soccer movie.
Días de fútbol, or Football Days, is a pretty funny Spanish buddy film about 7 men who resolve to enter and win a soccer league in order to cheer up Jorge, who has been dumped by his long-time girlfriend. All of the men have troubled love lives, and they are all terrible soccer players. They are led by Antonio, an ex-con with anger management issues, who wants to become a psychologist and tries to solve everyone’s problems.