Categories
Documentary

How should Rooney (2022) be remembered?

There are several things to like about the Wayne Rooney documentary. First of all, it’s only 1 hour and 43 minutes. While that’s 13 minutes longer than it should have been, it’s better than having to watch Wayne, Coleen and the kids play bored games in a long drawn-out series that searches for instagram moments.

Secondly, credit Director Matt Smith and producers Lorton Entertainment for presenting more than a highlight reel of Rooney’s glorious moments. They give you the inglorious headlines as well (minus the recent Wagatha Christie lawsuit — still unresolved as of this writing). Rooney’s life makes a writer’s job easy, because he regularly creates his own drama. There are so many incidents to regret and which, he insists, do not really represent who he is. Ahem.

Lastly, because Rooney truly was a great footballer, his soccer highlights are impressive and fun to watch. It’s not like watching the docuseries on Neymar and Pogba, where I was left to wonder: so what did those guys accomplish?

The film makes it pretty clear that one of its purposes is to influence how Rooney will be remembered. Cue the family footage, how the couple met in their early teens, wedding videos, Coleen Rooney designing her mansion. She talks openly about Wayne’s indiscretions. It’s the drink, you know. Coleen seems nice, but you feel like she has such a controlling influence over the film, that it is difficult to believe the constant bliss and forgiveness that is portrayed. (Twer it me, I would have burned all his cleats!)

The Soccer

The football footage and the talking heads well explain what made Rooney so great: relentless, all in, the Big Man. A pro at Everton at 16, he becomes the then youngest goal scorer in the Premier League. Being so young, he is inarticulate in front of the press and labeled as thick.

He’s also nicknamed the White Pelé, and is seen as the hope of England’s golden generation. At 18 he becomes the then youngest goal scorer at the 2004 Euros, but his tournament is cut short by injury.

For WC 2006, he rushes back from a foot injury but then tears his quad. Nonetheless, he plays, but being a fighter and drinker since his early teens, the streetfighter emerges in the game against Portugal. Rooney is ejected for stomping on Carvalho and England bow out in the quarters. On the international stage, Rooney never performs well.

On the other hand, joining Manchester United at 18, Rooney goes on to excel under Alex Ferguson and has a long career at the club. Towards the end of his playing days, he joins DC United for 2 seasons in MLS, where he creates undoubtedly the league’s greatest assist of all time in 2018.

I have watched that clip dozens of times, and each time I just shake my head because it is simply unimaginable. I always feel sorry for Will Johnson on that play.

There is scant mention of Rooney’s time as Derby County Manager. Perhaps too much drama there.

There is much to appreciate in Wayne Rooney’s talent. I never followed his career and found this film to be a good summary of his ability, with lovely football footage. By comparison, Rooney is only 7-8 years older than Pogba and Neymar. He seems to have accomplished much more than them and over a much longer time period. With so much emphasis today on becoming a celebrity and having an instagrammable life, I wonder if long-term excellence on the pitch will become a thing of the past. So enjoy Rooney for its soccer content, as the man might be one of the last who is great on the field and not just great on social media.

Note that Lorton Entertainment also produced the documentaries Make Us Dream (Steven Gerrard) and Asif Kapida’s Maradona.

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7

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Categories
Comedy

Where did ‘United We Fall’ (2014) go wrong?

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Categories
Documentary

Could ‘George Best: All by Himself’ (2016) happen today?

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Categories
Documentary

‘Dennis Viollet: A United Man’ (2016) and a Busby Babe survivor

Rachel Viollet’s documentary may have started as a memorial to her father, Dennis Viollet of Manchester United fame. But as she conducted interviews and collected history, her film also became an intriguing record of how the soccer world changed around him and because of him.

Categories
Documentary

‘Life of Ryan’ (2014) might not be so dull if it were more truthful

It’s hard to believe that Life of Ryan: Caretaker Manager is from Fulwell 73, the same company that produced Class of ’92 and other good football films.

Categories
Documentary

The blokes and fans of ‘The Class of ’92’ (2013)

The Class of ’92 started when Gary Neville got his old teammates to agree to make a film about their “Class of ’92”, Alex Ferguson’s young guns who went from youth academy to winning the treble in 1999 (FA Cup, EPL, and Champions League).

Directors and brothers Gabe and Benjamin Turner, owners of production company Fulwell 73, assembled the best integration of soccer player interviews and past game footage that I have seen. They get the players to open up individually and put them together for one day of camaraderie.

Categories
Drama

‘Believe’ (2013) is best for adults

Director David Scheinmann extends Believe beyond the well-worn story of motley kids trying to win a tournament. The film pivots on the parallel story of Coach Matt Busby redeeming his survivor’s guilt.

Many of his young ManU players, known as Busby’s Babes, died in the 1958 airplane disaster in Munich. Sir Matt Busby (Brian Cox acting in his third soccer movie) was severely injured but one of the few survivors. The film United covers this story very well. Believe weaves a purely fictional tale where post-retirement Busby coaches a forlorn neighborhood team whose key talent, Georgie, is a handful.

Categories
Comedy Drama

‘Looking for Eric’ (2009) and finding a wise Cantona

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.

Categories
Drama

‘United’ (2011) how ManU continued after Munich

United tells the story of the 1958 Munich air disaster involving ManU’s young team known as Busby’s Babes. Trying to take off in a snowstorm, the plane ran out of runway, hit a house, and was torn apart.