Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, but life is hard in Los Angeles, where he and his family moved as illegal immigrants 10 years earlier. When visiting sports scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) sees him play at a local amateur game, he recognizes his talent and sets up a tryout with the manager of Newcastle United (Marcel Iures). His father (Tony Plana) discourages him, but with the help of his grandmother (Miriam Colon), Munez makes his way to England, where the weather is foul, competition is fierce and the club has just signed up Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola), who is rapt in his own celebrity.
Review by Louise Keller:
Get ready to hear more about Mexican television heartthrob Kuno Becker, the star of Goal! a likeable but flawed rags to riches story about a young man who dreams of playing professional soccer. Becker has all the goods, with his sultry Latino looks, screen charisma and the ability to make us genuinely care whether or not he succeeds, at living out his American dream. Goal! is not in the same class as films like Fever Pitch or The Cup, which enthuse by their passion for the sport, rather than simply for the sport itself. While it is enjoyable in parts, there are simply too many implausibilities, too many predictable outcomes and the film never fulfils its promise. And the story strand about Santiago's friendship with ratbag hard-partying British soccer star Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola), whose lifestyle get in the way of his game, is never believable. Nivola, however, gives a stunning turn.
The best scenes are the early ones, when we meet Santiago Munez in his home environment, as he juggles two jobs and lives to play amateur soccer at the weekends. There's real resonance in the conflict between Munez and his practical father (Tony Plana), who does his best to smother his sons dreams. There's suddenly a chance for Munez, when sports scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) gets him a break, but he has to find his own way to England. And why would Munez fly all the way to London before contacting him? That's when director Danny Cannon shows us too many shots of Ventolin spray and even Munez' first meeting with Anna Friel's nurse Roz feels lacking in spontaneity.
It's hard to believe all the 'one last chances' given to Munez, especially as he fails to deliver the goods on his tryout day and is resented by the other players. But then in a flash, he suddenly goes from being broke and unemployed to having a contract. And to top it off, is sharing a luxury pad with playboy Harris, with whom he has absolutely nothing in common.
The soccer games are well staged and watch for a few celebrity cameos, including a brief appearance by a nervous-looking David Beckham (sans Victoria) at a posh nightclub. Goal! is mostly for the young soccer fans, and young females will be taken by Munez.
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CAST: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Marcel Iures, Stephen Dillane, Anna Friel, Kieran O'Brien, Sean Pertwee, Cassandra Bell, Tony Plana, Miriam Colon
PRODUCER: Matt Barrelle, Mike Jefferies
DIRECTOR: Danny Cannon
SCRIPT: Mike Jefferies, Adrian Butchart (story by Mike Jefferies)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Barrett
EDITOR: Chris Dickens
MUSIC: Graeme Revell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Laurence Dorman
RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 16, 2006