Teufelskicker is a kick of a football film. It is a well-crafted movie based on the eponymous German children’s books by Frauke Nahrgang.
Discovering Coach Dad to be unfaithful, Moritz and his mom move in with Grandpa. In an unfriendly new school, Moritz is bullied by the local club team. He has to find new friends and build his own team, which they name Teufelskicker (Devil’s Kickers).
When presented with the screenplay, Director Granz Henman worried that the storyline was too commonplace. But he was given the creative freedom to enhance the story. He incorporated Parkour stunts into the soccer and cast a Clint Eastwood Gran Torino style grandpa as a reluctant coach.
The soccer is very well done, the referees make all the right moves, and even the fouls are very authentic. Parkour is pretty amazing stuff — kids are tumbling, twisting, and flying through the air in urban environments and on the pitch. It’s Shaolin Soccer without using CGI.
When the plucky kids lose the practice field they have built, grandpa trains them inside the indoor shopping mall, where he is the night watchman. The soccer around the store displays and escalators is impressive (but not something you want your kids to try).
In a very creative touch, when Moritz’ Mutter is forced to fill in as coach, she communicates team tactics via cooking recipe metaphors which her son translates for the players.
As a parent, there are some issues you might want to consider before showing this film to young kids.
- Moritz and his mom walk in on dad’s infidelity (clothed)
- Moritz pees in the toilet while holding up a ball with his foot (again not something you want your boys to try)
- The club team hazes Moritz by shooting balls at him when he comes to tryout
- There are no happy families, but by the end the message is that family is important
- The film does not sugar coat the difficulties of divorce
About the film
It was interesting to learn that there were a lot of connections behind the scenes. The girl on Moritz’s team is the actual daughter of the director. His then girlfriend played Moritz’ mom. Moritz and 2 other boys made up one of the youngest bands in Germany, having formed “Apollo 3” at around age 10. They provided some of the music in the film.
The movie was filmed in Köln (Cologne) and has cameos by Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm, who spent about an hour on the set. They really don’t have much to do with the story.
8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8