Friday, February 09, 2007

GOAL! 2 LIVING THE DREAM - losing the naive charm

A couple of years ago we were subjected to GOAL! - a heart-on-its-sleeve, rags-to-riches story about a poor, illegal immigrant Mexican football player getting scouted for Newcastle United. The movie had manifest flaws. It left no sports-flick cliche unexploited and had a painfully wooden cameo from David Beckham. Still, it did what is set out to do with a certain naive innocence and had a certain charm for all that.

Every aspect of GOAL! that I gave the benefit of the doubt comes in at half the pace and quality in GOAL! 2: LIVING THE DREAM. Instead of Danny Cannon (CSI) as director we get Jaume Collet-Serra of HOUSE OF WAX fame. As a result, the movie has zero visual flair and the football scenes in particular are edited to within an inch of their life. Whereas GOAL! had been script-doctored by British comedy greats, Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais, GOAL! 2 lacks their more authentic and interesting dialogue. Poor Anna Friel, who plays Santiago's Geordie girlfriend, fares the worst from this ommission. She spends the entire film exclaiming, "Oh wow, this is so big!" or "Oh no! I really need a wee!".

The plot is pretty lame. Real Madrid has swapped Michael Owen for Santiago. He becomes their super-sub, scoring at will, while his ageing friend Gavin (Alessandro Nivola) is in a goal drought. As any fule kno, in a sports movie, when the hero makes it big, he starts to piss-off his old loyal friends and girlfriend, attracts hot chicks with evil designs, suffers as a result, before being redeemed. The only marginal difference here is that Santi discovers he has a poor half-brother with soccer skills in Spain.

It's rather a shame that GOAL! 2 has lost its charm and what little visual flair GOAL! had. I am also shocked that so many pro-footballers are willing to put in face-time. After all, the figure of Gavin is clearly taking the piss out of ignorant, cash-rich premiership footballers. Doesn't Beckham see they are mocking him?

GOAL! 2: LIVING THE DREAM is on release in the UK. It opens in Spain on March 16th, in Hong Kong on March 22nd, in France on April 4th and in Germany on May 31st.

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