Review: La Dream Team (2016)

La Dream Team (2016)Add La Dream Team to the list of really good soccer movies that have sprung forth for our viewing pleasure in the past few years*. Réalisateur Thomas Sorriaux accomplishes what American directors seldom do: work comedy into a family film that appeals to both kids and adults.

Maxime Belloc (Medi Sadoun) is an aging star for PSG who accidentally breaks his own leg in anger after being told that Griezemann is replacing him at Euro 2016. Having become the most hated player in France, his agent has him disappear to his father’s home, in the Berry countryside, to rehabilitate his body.

To rehabilitate his image, he decides to help coach the hapless youth team his father (Gerard Depardieu) has continued to manage in the 17 years that Maxime has been away. Maxime has been so absent, he doesn’t even know he has a niece. As he trains and motivates the players, he also rehabilitates his humanity.

Of course, this is the most common storyline for sports movies, such as Disney’s The Mighty Ducks (which is probably why on Netflix, this movie is titled A Mighty Team). What makes this movie so enjoyable is Sadoun’s portrayal of a man who slowly awakens to the flaws in his narcissistic lifestyle and basically, makes little changes to do the right things. (It’s something I wish our new President-elect Trump could do. Sigh. But that’s a different blog.)

The French and German moviemakers are always excellent at portraying soccer, and here again it is so. Sadoun had to train hard, lose some weight, and get fit, in order to go on the PSG pitch at halftime and film his scoring sequence amid the reserve squads.

The U16 youth actors are all either real players or comedic actors. One of the cute scenes is Maxime teaching his players how to dive, a tactic he later discards. His other unique training techniques are also humorous, and the path to victory has funny moments. Even the dog knows how to play soccer.

Medi Sadoun Photo
Medi Sadoun Photo

Medi Sadoun has never taken an acting class, and he doesn’t overtly do anything comic, but he is dreamy here, fun to watch, and his enthusiasm as a caring coach and new human being is entrancing. Half Italian and half Algerian, his face is somewhere between Zidane and Yves Montand. This is his first starring role in a feature film, and hopefully he will get more of such roles.

In researching this film, I discovered that Sadoun joked to bystanders during filming that he had not put on cleats since he was 14, and that he was now 42, and they should do the math.

“La dernière fois que j’ai chaussé des crampons, j’avais 14 ans. J’en ai 42, je vous laisse faire le calcul!”

I also found that apparently Gerard Depardieu only consents to give one interview for promoting a movie. He was originally from the area of Berry, where he himself had been a hapless goalkeeper. Director Sorriaux succeeded in getting him to play an understated father-grandfather-farmer-coach, although his character removes himself from most of the games as being unlucky. I suspect this was woven into the story so that Gégé did not have to travel with the team. This is Depardieu’s second soccer movie, the other being the FIFA movie United Passions.

Although the creators often mention the Disney-like story, this is a Paramount film. So here’s a warning to parents: there is a bare-butt pro player shower scene 6 minutes into the movie.

In French with English subtitles
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9

Resources:
Released: 2016-03-23 (France)
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4676238
Director (Réalisateur): Thomas Sorriaux
Stars: Medi Sadoun (@MediSadoun) , Gerard Depardieu
Bande-annonce Trailer with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgTEjnc2bkQ
Website: http://www.paramountpictures.fr/film/la-dream-team/

*Sommeren ’92, Trainer!, Pelé, Underdogs (Metegol)