Tuesday 18th January 2022

Goal! (12A)
Directed by: Danny Cannon
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Look, it's Newcastle United against Full Ham
Look, it's Newcastle United against Full Ham

Historically, films about football have been pretty bad. Mean Machine, When Saturday Comes and Escape to Victory are all cases in point. Arguably the best football-related film is Bend It Like Beckham, but the storyline isn't really about football at all. Furthermore, it suffers from the same flaw as the rest of them, in that the scenes on the pitch are confusingly directed and fail to capture the excitement of the beautiful game.

Goal! is the first part of a planned trilogy following the fortunes of Santiago Munez (played by the relatively unknown Kuno Becker), a young Mexican boy who escapes to Los Angeles with his family at the age of ten. He grows up to lead a fairly humble life, holding down two menial jobs and playing for his local league side whenever he can.

Of course, he is eventually spotted by a British talent scout and nips off to the UK for a trial at Newcastle United, much to the disappointment of his hard-grafting father. However, things come up pretty rosy for Munez and before long he is rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sven, Zinédine Zidane and David Beckham.

Apart from a few notable cameos, though, most of the action is made up from stock footage, giving the impression that Munez is playing in the Premiership against the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Unfortunately, while this works quite well, it doesn't save the film from falling into the same trap as the other footie movies. Following a stint on TV's CSI, feature film newcomer Danny Cannon directs, having taken over from Michael Winterbottom (9 Songs, 24 Hour Party People) early in production.

Cannon has chosen to represent the action on the pitch through a series of close-ups, both of players' feet and players' faces, neither of which lets the viewer see where they are on the pitch, who is around them or really what is going on at all. It would be nice to see the sport shown in the wide-angle format we are used to, although as these scenes were undoubtedly filmed in a series of meticulously setup two-second shots, this is unlikely to happen.

Cannon does manage to capture the feeling of excitement that a true fan feels in the build up to a big match, which is even more impressive when you consider the time in which he manages the feat is only a few seconds. If you're a fan of Kasabian, Oasis, UNKLE, The Bees and Dirty Vegas, you'll be pleased to hear the soundtrack is pretty cool too.

As far as the plot goes, it's ultimately very predictable. Some time is devoted to the perils of young players with too much money, which can apparently lead to booze, drugs, beautiful women and being late for training. There's also the inevitable rise to success for the hero, as well as the last minute goal to save the day (a left-footed free kick from a right-footed player, incidentally).

However, none of this film's bad points stops it from being quite an enjoyable ride and when you consider they've covered the whole range of clichés in this film, it certainly makes the next two instalments an interesting prospect. Early word is that Munez will move to Real Madrid in the second (like Jonathan Woodgate or a backwards Michael Owen) before finding World Cup glory in the final third. Personally, I'd be surprised if Mexico or USA wins the World Cup in 2006, so it will be interesting to see who young Santiago pledges his allegiance to. My money's on the yanks.

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Length: 118 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 30th September 2005

Top Five Rating: 70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0%70.0% (70.0%)
User Rating: 0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0% (0.0%)

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