Cool Kids Don’t Cry is a hopeful and touching film about a vibrant eighth grade girl who contracts leukemia, and how she and her classmates respond to her illness as it progresses.
Strike is the story of Mungo, a footballing mole with a goal to win the Wild Cup for England. Mungo is torn, because like many footballing greats from the olden days, he has to work in the mines and uphold the proud tradition of his forefathers and everyone else at the Diggington gold mine.
A rather sinister story
For Mungo and his friends, working in the mine is enjoyable, even though the gold mine seems to be a bit of a bust. But Mungo still has a dream to play football and is afraid to tell his father what he really wants to do.
From that point, the story gets a bit convoluted with bad guys who want to take over the mine; they resemble James Bond villains and the cartoon duo Boris and Natasha. The villains also, for some reason that I can’t recall, sabotage the England team by poisoning the players. A social media video of Mungo’s footballing skills inside the mine gets him a call up to a depleted squad for the Wild Cup.
The bad guys also enlist a seemingly kindly old rat to sabotage the mine by blowing it up while Mungo’s dad is inside. To keep Mungo out of the final against Germany, they kidnap his mom and friends, feed the rat to piranhas, chase Mungo and his friends back to the stadium, and and and use a giant magnet to whip Mungo’s goggles off his head.
I failed to mention Mungo’s goggles. My 5 year old granddaughter asked why Mungo wears goggles to play soccer. The dark goggles are invented by his friend Hedy to allow the mole to play in the bright stadium lights. Hedy is a girl (possibly a badger) who is a bit on the autistic spectrum and hence a fabulous innovator; she also maintains the equipment in the mine.
The film was privately financed by producers Jeremy Davis and Edward Catchpole. First-time Director Trevor Hardy has said that when the film suddenly got the go-ahead, there was no pre-production phase, and writer Neil James put the script together in 22 days.
That would certainly account for the ideas that don’t seem very child-friendly, such as children going off to work in the mines, and the National Team manager sidling up to Mungo’s newly widowed mom after the WC.
A good film for fans of stop motion
For fans of stop motion, such as John Ikuma of Stop Motion Magazine, the low budget nature of the film is actually one of its selling points. The detailed artistry of the puppet and set makers excels at charming the educated viewer. The model making work is provided primarily by students from Northbrook College. Ikuma’s Nov-2020 Facebook interview with Director Hardy is very informative on how things were done.
The animators did a pretty fair job on the stop motion football play. It conveys the game with a lot of spliced shots, similar to most live action soccer movies where the actors don’t know how to play.
Missing a market window
On the business side, Strike is an example of what happens when a movie misses its market widow. Most soccer movies are timed to hit theaters in the first half of a World Cup year, and I assume filmmakers Gigglefish Studios, who began collaborating in 2016, meant to release ahead of WC 2018.
However, midway through production, they learned that Aardman (makers of Wallace and Gromit) was producing Early Man. I think the Aardman film was reviewed by every English-speaking newspaper in the world. But Gigglefish’s Strike didn’t hit theaters until 2019, and like most soccer movies, it is pretty difficult to find a review of it. It also doesn’t help that the film is low-budget (£13M versus Early Man‘s £69M) and looks low-resolution.
In a key way, Gigglefish’s marketing situation was analogous to the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics: too little too late turns a project into an afterthought.
After seeing Early Man, watching Strike often reminded me of the 60+ year old TV series Gumby, whose characters had very limited mobility (they slid everywhere) and weird mouth movements. Cath Clarke of the Guardian thought viewers might find the puppets twee. And that sums it up for me as well — the film’s a bit twee, but it’s watchable by adults. Whether or not it is appropriate for children is up to their parents to decide.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6
The most charitable description of Fan of Amoory is that it is well-meaning propaganda meant to exhort young boys to follow their dreams and work for them. In the glory of the UAE.
Gulbahar Singh is a director who wants to make feature films on humanity, and The Goal (द गोल) is an unusual football drama in that its coach decides that overcoming prejudice is more important than winning.
As a kids movie, there are a lot of reasons to dislike Yibran Asuad’s All the Freckles in the World. Take your pick: sexualization of 13 year olds, a teacher-student sexual relationship, a sexist affront to women, and last but not least, very little soccer despite a tenuous link to the Mexican National Team at the 1994 World Cup. Writer-Director Yibran Asuad is known for serious work, but it looks like he took this “commercial” job for the paycheck.
Mi Amigo Alexis has been released on Netflix in the USA without fanfare. Which is puzzling to me, because this is one of the best and highest-quality family-friendly soccer movies to arrive since Bend it Like Beckham. That being said, My Friend Alexis is not a comedy, not a film where you giggle along with your child while watching. It has some serious themes that you might need to discuss with your child afterwards.
Created just in time for the 2019 Womens World Cup, Back of the Net embraces many of the same values that propelled the US Womens National Team (USWNT) into the social media stratosphere: embracing diversity, teamwork and a can do spirit. If your child got on the USWNT WWC2019 bandwagon and wants other forms of that messaging, this is the film for her or him. On top of that, Back of the Net is a refreshing creative spin on the classic underdog tale.
Iceland Iceland Iceland. They have so much to envy: gorgeous environment, the Viking thunder clap, and a team that performed at the highest international stages despite a population of around 350,000 and being coached by a dentist.
Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks is not a soccer movie, but should be watched for its engaging 10-minute animation of a football game. Like all Disney animations, the quality is so good that the 50 year old film remains on par with today’s technology.
Even if you are like me and have watched over 250 soccer movies, Alex & Me provides an enjoyable fresh take on the underdog theme. Despite going straight to DVD, it is an inspiring family-friendly film that is well worth watching by pre-teen girls as well as their parents.
Soccer decision makers, fans, and parents who don’t understand how our sport works in America should watch The Anderson Monarchs. Writer-Director Eugene Martin captures, in a decidedly upbeat way, the commitment required to sustain a unique, inner city, all-African-American, girls soccer team in Philadelphia.
I was thoroughly enchanted by Buscando a Marcos Ramírez, the first soccer movie I have seen from Costa Rica. In the story, Marcos’ single mom has named him for the popular eponymous children’s book and given him a love of reading. But when she dies, he must move from the simple countryside to the unwelcoming home of his grandfather in the city of San José, Costa Rica.
Mi Mundial is a charming Cinderella-like football tale, except this Cinderella returns to the ashes of his old life. This futbol pelicula is based on the 2010 children’s book of the same name, by former Uruguayan futbolista Daniel Baldi. A prolific author of mostly juvenile books mostly about football, Baldi uses much of his life in his stories, and he made sure that the film stayed true to its origin and message.
Talk about strange. I found Shui Hu, The Soccer Heroes ( 水浒足球 ), an anime Chinese DVD, in my county library system. The animation is quite crude and similar to Captain Tsubasa, so that I thought this film must be from the early 1980s. Instead, this feature length cartoon from Hong Kong was produced in 2006.
What’s not to like about Nick Park and Aardman Animations’ Early Man? Apparently it depends on whether your country favors the round or pointy kind of football. Whereas UK reviews are all positive, American reviews included comments as nasty as “Who cares if cavemen could play soccer?”