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Jimmy Grimble is a shy Manchester school boy. At school he is constantly being bullied by the other kids, and at home he has to face his mother's new boyfriend who he doesn't like. However, through football, and some special boots, he manages to gain the confidence to succeed and leads his school football team towards the final of the local schools cup. Written by
There's Only One Jimmy Grimble is a very simple film of whimsy and football, a tale of a young 15 year old Manchester misfit who learns some life lessons when he encounters a strange old homeless dear who gives him a pair of magical old boots. So yes, boys own fanciful stuff for sure, but it has such a warm heart, is loaded with dry Lancastrian wit, and threaded together with such an affection for the sport and teenage growing pains, that's it's impossible to dislike. The cast list is impressive, with Ray Winstone, Robert Carlyle, Gina McKee, Ben Miller and Jane Lapotaire keeping the ball up for the adults, while in the youngsters half we have Lewis McKenzie as Jimmy scoring well by being naturally uneasy in front of the camera, and Samia Smith has the required charm and feistiness to make the tricky "girlfriend" role work very well.
There's good football action for the footie loving fan, with serious tension filled sequences sitting next to some truly funny ones; anyone who played for their school football team will identify with the "different" sort of teams Jimmy and co have to play against, and some of the young characterisations will definitely strike a chord with most British folk who played sport at school. The drama is well played, with director John Hay letting his actors imbue the narrative with the right amount of emotional weight, the soundtrack is contains ideal poundings from bands up North and John De Boorman's cinematography is suitably bleak and beautiful at the requisite junctures.
It has flaws for sure, any film fan could pick holes in this without really trying, and familiarity of the sub-genre undoubtedly stops it blooming with freshness. But why gripe? Film achieves its aims, it wants to leave you with a feel good glow and delivers on that promise. High art it's not, perfect British footie pick me up? Indeed. All together now, "there's only one Jimmy Grimble, one Jimmy Grimble". 7/10
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