Twitter Plot Summary: A Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles is given a trial with Newcastle United football club and a chance to live his dreams.
Five Point Summary:
1. Stannis Baratheon!
2. Ahh, Newcastle. I less than 3 you.
3. Anna Friel as a nurse. You now have my interest.
4. Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame!
5. Boring, expected resolution. Yawn.
I’ve always found sports movies to be a tricky proposition. They usually follow the same structure – underdog makes it big and overcomes his many issues before the end credits – so my interest in such films is based on whether or not they do something fun or interesting or even completely different with that structure. Goal!, released in 2005, does none of that and sticks so rigidly to the formula that it makes you wonder why they bothered making it at all.
Our plucky underdog is Santiago Munez, a Mexican immigrant now living in Los Angeles who dreams of making it big in the world of football – otherwise known as soccer in some parts of the world. He’s spotted by a former football scout who wrangles him a trial with Newcastle United. Perhaps an odd choice of club to feature in a film, however their fans are as dedicated as it gets so from that perspective at least the passion for success is there. Once in Newcastle Santiago has to prove himself to the manager and the training staff, undergoing several rites of passage and overcoming a number of obstacles on his way from getting his foot in the door to playing for the first team.
There’s a number of cameos from Newcastle United first team players from that period, including Alan Shearer. Thankfully most of the football players featured have no dialogue, but just to make it all the more cringeworthy, David Beckham turns up in a speaking role and is shockingly bad, but then that will come as no surprise. Every sports movie genre cliche is played out and doesn’t deviate from its path at any point. There are literally no surprises and it ends in exactly the way you would expect. It even does the whole “Rocky!”/“Adrian!” thing that was cliche back in 1976, let alone 2005. The thing is, with a couple of twists to the script this would have been far better than the sum of its parts yet it doggedly refuses to do so.
If you were expecting subtle emotional drama, forget it. The emotional angle is played up to the hilt and rarely seems to make any sense, a jumble of sequences thrown together whereby Santiago is estranged from his father, his budding relationship with nurse Roz (Friel) is tested, and he tries to make new Newcastle signing Gavin Harris realise that, at 28 years of age, he needs to start acting like a role model for the younger players rather than partying like a crazy man all the time.
The only thing I got out of it was that it’s set in Newcastle and there are some really nice aerial shots of the city, and the opportunity to say on a couple of occasions that I’ve walked down some of the streets seen in the film. Oh, and to a lesser extent, Anna Friel dressed as a nurse – that’s usually good for business. On all other accounts it’s not worth your time. Oh, and Sean Pertwee doesn’t die – that came as quite the surprise.