The Game of Their Lives (2005)

The Game of Their Lives (2005) tmdb posterMaybe like me, you fell asleep during The Game of Their Lives (retitled The Miracle Match on DVD) when it played on the big screen in Apr-2005. Although directed and written by the same guys who did Hoosiers, the pace is very slow in this telling of the USA victory over England at WC 1950.

There are too many stories/themes to follow: diversity, 2nd generation Americans, religious tolerance, no-chance underdog, fear of flying, WWII veterans, soccer on a shoestring budget. There are also some minor historical inaccuracies and distractions, e.g. the St Louisian sportswriter, who follows the team and narrates the story, is portrayed by a very British Jean-Luc Picard.

But like wine, the movie improves the second time around on DVD, and I was able to watch it again without snoozing one wink. Partially, the now-famous Gerard Butler’s charisma commands attention. And there is a parallel between this game and the US WNT vs Japan WWC 2011 final. Both of the favored teams were incredibly unlucky despite numerous shots on goal. Winning on those days was not England’s nor Japan’s destiny.

The soccer is okay, although it consists of many split-seconds of action time-spliced together. Why would they do that, when so many of the actors were accomplished soccer players, or played on Hollywood United FC or other celebrity teams: Gerard Butler, Louis and Costas Mandylor, Zak Bryan (oldest son on “Home Improvement”), Jimmy-Jean Louis, Wes Bentley, and Richard Jenik, plus ringer John Harkes. And including Harkes and Eric Wynalda, there were 4 soccer consultants.

Additional background info:
  • A depiction of the game
  • Wiki history of Hollywood United FC
  • Hollywood United still plays, and was in the NPSL in 2011
  • Joe Gaetjens, the only goal scorer of the game, was going to college in the USA when he joined the team. He was not an American citizen and to play for USA only had to declare an intention to become one. He eventually returned to Haiti and was arrested and presumably killed by Papa Doc Duvalier’s forces when they took over.

SoccerMovieMom Rating = 5


Release Date: 2005—04-22 (USA)
Director: David Anspaugh