There are things to like about Total Football: the Movie, and largely those occur in the last 30 minutes of the film. What the team does to win made me enjoy this Australian film.
Two brothers lead their recreational team to the Grand Final. Charlie is the Mel Gibson-like star player who gets the girls, and Frank is the Oliver Platt-like non-playing coach preaching Total Football at halftime.
My favorite line is when coach Frank suffers tragic remorse for having flooded the field in order to defeat an Argentinian team:
Frank: “I love south American football. I love the Joga Bonita. It has inspired millions of people world wide. And today, I threw mud in their face. Today, I killed my own mother.”
Mark: “Frank, it’s okay. We won!”
Soccer that is a metaphor for soccer
Other than a penalty shootout, the soccer action is to be perceived, not watched, as it is a lot of split-second frames stitched together to convey fouls and goals. The team’s success parallels the Socceroos’ run at WC 2006, but that action is conveyed by the fan reactions to an off-screen TV.
The main problem with Writer-Director Carlo Petraccaro’s first feature film is that it’s hard to find a character to care about. The women are one-dimensional sex objects disdainful of soccer. A bunch of 30ish guys are still talking about high school.
It is comical that star Charlie removes his shirt at a rate that recalls William Shatner in Star Trek or maybe Magic Mike (without the abs). And towards the end, the only way Charlie demonstrates the depth of his character is when he lists the women he didn’t shag out of respect for his brother and best friend.
A hometown production with controversy
Shot in 2008 in Petraccaro’s hometown of Adelaide with local actors, a local production company (Urtext), and local community financial support, the film has a low-budget look and comes with controversy. It had 2 local showings in 2009 under the title of Offside. But after a few years, Petraccaro re-edited the film to its current title, and it is now available for free on the web. Urtext has gone on to focus on being a 2-person production company of commercials and short documentaries.
Note: This is the first Australian soccer movie that I have reviewed, which probably added a lot to my enjoyment. I once watched Broken Hill, but it turned out that was about footy Australian rules football.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6