You can count the amount of soccer movies made on a little more than one hand. Now, I am a big soccer fan, but soccer movies are typically not worth the watch. Actually sports movies in general are not worth the watch. They are all the same. When I think back, the only ones that really stand out in my mind are Major League, Remember the Titans, Rocky, Mystery Alaska, and Cool Runnings. Of course I missed a few good ones in there, but that was a quick list. When it comes to Goal! The Dream Begins, however, I might have to add this to my list. I was a big fan of Bend it like Beckham, but this one is better. Both movies focused on race and being out of place, and the love of the game.
The movie opens with the lead, Santiago, and his family sneeking over the Amreican border. Little Santiago loses his soccer ball, and has to leave it behind. Cut to now. Santiago and his father work for a landscaper doing lawn maintanece. Santiago plays soccer on the weekends with a local league. There he is a star. An Englishman, that used to be an agent and player, just happens to be at the game, offers him a try out in England. Now, I don't know how much you know about soccer, but England is the Mecca of soccer. The only catch is, Santiago has to find his own way there. His father warns him that if he leaves America, he can't get back in because he was illegal to begin with. He goes against his father and goes back across the border to catch a flight over to England. This all takes place in the first 40 minutes of the 2 hour story. It felt longer, but it was not slow or boring at all.
Now, he has his try out in the rain. It is a totally different game in the rain and mud. Santiago, being from LA, does not fair well on the pitch. So, he is cut. But determination gets him back in. He eventually makes the reserver team. From there, he befriends the team captain, gets mixed up in parties, finds a girl, and becomes a star.
I have left a lot out of the plot ad story because I would hate to ruin this movie. It has great emotional parts. Being illegal comes back to haunt him. His family plays a big part. His relationships with teammates and girlfriend move to movie along.
Despite its slowness that is NOT felt, it was a stupendous film that makes me mad that I did not get to see it in theaters. This is the first movie of a trilogy. The studio spent $100 million on the whole trilogy. Soccer movies do not have the box office draw in America, or anywhere for that matter. This great film should have had a budget closer to $10 million instead of $33 million. The second one is being finished now, but I doubt that they will finish the third after the second only makes $4 million like the first.
If you like sports movies at all, rent this movie and enjoy it. Then go see the second in theaters to help get to the third. This could be a great trilogy, I just hope I get to see it all.
Verdict: worth the $5 rent.