I’m sorry, but The Trophy Thief did not steal my heart. Instead, I feel manipulated, as if the creators are simply playing to sympathies by casting a short-statured soccer player as Ben, the boy who steals an unjustly-awarded MVP trophy.
First of all, parents reading this review should know that while initially the coach is very encouraging to Ben, he later hits and swears at him. The growth of the boy is to get past the violence, but heck, I just don’t believe in exhibiting and therefore promoting child abuse, especially in coach-player relationships. (I had to check Australian law to confirm that they might consider these acts abusive when not from a parent.)
Additionally, even though the film is only 15 minutes, the story is a mess. I couldn’t even piece together the backstory until I read the website synopsis. The coach is the mom’s ex-boyfriend. But he is now with the mom of another player on the team. We’re supposed to believe that Ben’s loving mom keeps him on her ex’s team, lays out Ben’s uniform for the big game, then sleeps through it as well as the end-of-season team pizza party, and later has sex with the ex while Ben sits outside. (Sorry for the spoilers)
Playing a normal-sized actor in the role wouldn’t make any difference in the story. Which makes me wonder if Director D. Edwards cast Isaac purely to bring attention to the film, à la Baghad Messi, which stars a boy with one leg, and which made the top 10 list for Oscar nomination in live action short films. Because unfortunately, unlike Baghdad Messi, Isaac is the only part of this movie that rings true, and it would have been less distracting if the film had incorporated his condition into the story at all.
The only upside of my time watching and reviewing this movie was reading that Isaac intends to keep playing soccer. Currently he has dispensation to play down a couple of years due to his condition of spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a form of dwarfism. I wondered what options there are for short-statured people to play sports.
It turns out that in the USA, there is the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (daaa.org), which has annual national sports competitions and sends teams to the World Games every 4 years. If you go to their website, they have many videos of their events and teams, including soccer. Very cool. Their inclusive principles are similar to those of AYSO (which in addition to its recreational soccer platform, has a VIP program for players with disabilities).
I also discovered the “Gigantes do Norte,” a team of Brazilian futebol playing dwarves who perform professionally. They have an outdated Facebook page. It appears that they were still performing across Brazil in 2016.
In English, 15 minutes long
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 4
Released: 2015-05-25 (Seattle)
Director: D. Edwardz
Stars: Isaac Natoli
Watch it online at: https://vimeo.com/197602515