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The members of a Dutch soccer team have been playing together since they were little boys. Now, in their twenties, they all have have their own "grown-up" problems. With the team's 500th game coming up, personal issues take almost all their time... Written by
This one works. Funny, well-written, well-performed.
ALL STARS (Jean van de Velde - The Netherlands - 1997).
I've always had a weak spot for this film. Saw it in cinema ten years ago. Loved it back then and watched it many times since, on television and DVD and still love it. The writing is great, the setting very recognizable and the characters are so lovable and well-written, only extremely grumpy film critics will be able to resist this. This football- and buddy-film must have hit pretty close to home to most Dutch audiences, but I think the emotions and topics here are universal. Anyone can enjoy this; women, football-haters, Americans, non-Dutch, anyone basically. It's about seven friends who have little in common, but every Sunday they're present at the football pitch to play their weekly game. With their 500th match approaching, tensions rise and many consider quitting the team. Three characters are given a little more weight. Danny de Munck is a businessman who spends most of his weekdays doing business in Taiwan and arranges everything surrounding the football matches, Antonie Kamerling is Hero, former philosophy student trying to figure out what to do with his life and there's Daniel Boissevain as Johnny, unemployed electrician and son of former coach Meeuwse, played by Frits Lambregts.
The wordplay and football jokes are plenty. It's all about male bonding, so there's little room for well developed female characters in this film women. They don't come off well and even in their small parts, the performances are sub-par. Daphne Deckers (an amateur, thrown in for name value) as Hero's love interest nearly ruined it for me. Lucretia van der Vloot however, is great. It's amazing how Mischa Alexander, who wrote the original script, and Jean van de Velde made all these characters (all seven of them!) come to life so well in the short running time of 100 minutes. No high marks for any innovative cinema here. It's just fast-paced, funny as hell, very moving at times, well-performed and a perfect '90s time capsule (lost of inserts with actual jokes and television bits).
The film spawned a very successful television-series, also named "All Stars", and Spanish, Belgian and British remakes. A contract for a Chinese remake was signed, but I haven't checked if those ideas were realized. I'll stick to this one, although I heard the British and Spanish versions are quite OK. The Belgian remake, which is an exact copy minus a likable cast and good jokes, is pretty bad.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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