In The Soccer Nanny, a recently widowed mother (ex-pornstar Traci Lords) hires a male au pair from Norway to provide a role model for her 9 and 16 year old sons while she runs the family’s bison farm in the “Little Sweden” town of Lindsborg, Kansas.
Nanny Oddmund is crazy about soccer and carries or dribbles a ball everywhere. There are many puns and double-entendres in the beginning, but then the plot swirls around whether Oddmund is gay or just European, and if he is molesting the boys.
Writer-Director-Producer JT O’Neal wrote the script to satisfy the requirements for an MFA in screenwriting in 2004 at UCLA. He had gone back to school after working 20 years as a physician in occupational medicine, mostly for the Air Force. The script then took 4 years to begin filming, and then 3 years for it to be accepted on the film festival circuit. With such a long gestation, was this dramedy worth the wait?
Should have been more of a period piece?
One problem with this film lies with its anachronism. It is very coy in its very slow revelation of the backstory that the deceased father was gay. I couldn’t understand why this was treated like some unspeakable secret when I could see it coming from a mile away, especially when it seemed like a majority of the actors were gay. I was thinking, what’s the big deal if the dad is gay?
But I understood it after reading about the creator and realizing that he probably spent 20 years hiding in the military’s closet himself. However, unless you put the story in that timeframe or in the context of an unsupportive contemporary community, it doesn’t ring true.
Low budget but high botox
Overall, the script is too uneven and not terribly logical. Traci Lords is a distraction, not for her reputation or her figure, but because her botoxed cheeks and forehead are so plumped and frozen that she can only talk from the bottom of her mouth, like a ventriloquist’s wooden puppet.
On the upside, O’Neal delivers his business model of making his first feature film on a low budget ($200,000) but with production values that look like it was made for $1M. The cinematography is great. The soccer is terrible until the end, when he brings in some Bethany College players.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5
- Release Date: 2011-06-25 (USA)
- Also known as Au Pair, Kansas.
- Director: J.T. O’Neal