Mariano, an ardent fan of la Selección, passionately believes that Mexico always wins when he is at the game at Azteca to cheer them on. In a home-and-away series with the USMNT to qualify for the World Cup, Mariano (Adrian Uribe) bets all his savings on Mexico.
But on the morning of the deciding home game, his uncle dies. Mariano and his brother desperately try multiple deceptions to escape the funeral service and get to their seats in Azteca. As the game progresses, they try to at least find out the score.
With a storyline like this, you’d expect this comedy to be quite funny. In fact, Penalty Kick is a remake of a wildly popular 2001 Colombian film, La Pena Máxima. With that heritage and a budget of $1.8M, you’d expect lots of laughs as the story is relocated from Bogotá to Mexico City. After all, as we saw at WC 2018 in Russia, whose fans are as fanatic as Mexico’s? They set off earthquake sensors when Mexico scored against Germany! And what could be funnier or more chest-bumping than Mexico defeating the USA? That is, if you’re not a USMNT fan.
But to me, Director Rodrigo Triana’s comedy is like watching a Laurel and Hardy movie. Except for his fan enthusiasm, Mariano is distinctly unlikable. Like Oliver Hardy, he is a curmudgeon who berates his brother, insults his relatives, hates his government office worker job, defies his boss, and treats his taxpaying customers contemptuously like, well, taxpayers.
The only thing Mariano has going for him is his gorgeous Colombian wife Luz Dary (Julieth Restrepo), and that contributes to the inanity of the film. Like Jules and Dolores, there is no clue as to why such a babe is with such a dud. The two also have a gratuitous sex scene that includes withdrawal as birth control.
Too many parts don’t make sense
I haven’t seen the 2001 Colombian version but watched a trailer for it. It appears Director Triana may have adhered to the original story. However, the remake seems to take place in 2017, as the brothers mention Chicharito and Tim Howard. But there are too many parts of the film that don’t make sense in 2017. For example, the funeral is near Azteca, and yet the brothers can’t find out the score from anyone or anything, and they can’t get a ride to the stadium.
Another problem is the plot line that a game in World Cup qualifying goes to penalty kicks to determine a winner. FIFA doesn’t work that way.
I wondered if I disliked this film because Director Triana is Colombian, and Colombians appreciate el humor criollo (Creole humor), which is supposed to be sarcastic and ironic. Maybe I just didn’t catch the sarcasm? But I think I just couldn’t enjoy this film because even though Mariano is a true fútbol fan, I just couldn’t stand him. I never liked Oliver Hardy either!
There is no soccer in this film, but it thoroughly portrays the joy and camaraderie of being a football fan.
There are excellent performances by all the actors in this film, but to summarize: You’d expect this remake to be quite funny. But it’s not. La pena maxima could be watching this film.
The google translation of the Mexican title “Tuya, mía… te la apuesto” is “Yours, mine… I’ll bet you”. The original title for the release in Columbia was “La pena máxima”, or “the maximum penalty”.
In Spanish with English subtitles
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5