Unfortunately for viewers who don’t know who Jay DeMerit is, the first-time filmmakers of The Jay DeMerit Story present his history chronologically. So it takes awhile for the non-soccer fan to understand why his story is even worth telling.
But if you DO know who Jay is, then the first 45 minutes are compelling. Jay, who grew up in Green Bay, makes his dream — to play in the EPL — come true through sheer will power, refusal to give up, the help of friends, and eventually, the luck of being in the right place at the right time.
There are insights into how tough it is to make it in the EPL, where you can be discounted and considered past your prime by age 19. Jay is 24 when he gets his chance. He also points out how often the-next-big-star peters out in 1-2 years after injury or insufficient mental attitude, and ends up playing in the Sunday Pub leagues.
The excitement of Jay’s leading Watford to promotion to the EPL is almost palpable. But after that, the movie is a pastiche of WC 2010 clips, and it loses all steam once they interview Bob Bradley, the soccer embodiment of deathly dull.
The real problem with this movie is that there is not enough story for a feature film; it probably should have been a 1-hour TV documentary at best. The screening I was at had only about 20 patrons, and we lost the audio for the last 5-10 minutes, so I don’t know if there were any pithy nuggets of wisdom at the end.
If nothing else, it would be nice if this movie — made by the help of donations via Kickstarter — could set up Jay as an action cinema actor. Certainly the camera likes him, he’s reminiscent of Matt Damon and Sam Worthington, and Hollywood could use some fresh blood and a real athlete.
(2016 update to my review: Jaye DeMerit retired from the MLS in 2014. I don’t know what he’s doing now, but I wish him a lot of luck, because I loved watching him play.)
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5 (if only they hadn’t thrown in Bob Bradley!)
Update on Jan-6-2020: the film is now officially available on YouTube,