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Fair-haired Ecki, the baker's son, has grown up the golden boy of his home town. All that changes the instant he and his soccer teammates discover he's gay. Now the object of scorn and ridicule (and finding himself unceremoniously kicked off his team), Ecki travels to the city of Dortmund to recruit an all-gay soccer team to return and prove to his town and his former soccer mates who the best men are. As first-time-out Ecki searches blindly through gay watering holes for players, his parents endure a rash of derisive gay jokes from the townies, leaving Ecki's gruff father to hope for a change in his son's orientation while also considering closing down the family business. Written by
In Many Ways, This is Yesterday's Lunch - But a Fun and Endearing Replay!
Director Sherry Horman and writer Benedikt Gollhardt have not introduced any new ideas in 'Männer wie wir' ('Guys and Balls') - team sports dependent on camaraderie, outsiders getting the last laugh, coming out stories with sports as a background, homophobia to the max, and stereotypical depictions of gay men - but they have created a movie that has enough charm to get past all of the above. It is that kind of movie that makes you groan 'Oh no, not again', but then ends up making you feel warm and sentimental despite yourself! Ecki (a very charismatic and hunky Maximilian Brückner) has grown up in a rural town, the son of a baker, and a committed soccer fan since childhood. Now as a young man he is sought after by his girlfriend Cordula (Melody Sitta) but is unable to respond to her advances. As the popular goalie on his soccer team he is hailed until quite by accident he is discovered in warm embrace with a teammate: the teammate and the team trash him for being gay, his father (Dietmar Bär) throws him out of the house, and poor Ecki departs for Dortmund to live with his sister, swearing to his team that he will return with a gay soccer team to defeat the homophobic jerks.
Ecki and his sister Susanne (Lisa Potthoff) pair off to find gay team players and find them they do, in the strangest places (this is where the film sags due to the stereotypes the director elected to cast). Ecki creates a solid team, falls in love with his sister's co-worker nurse Sven (David Rott) and despite some minor setbacks, the team boards the bus to return to Ecki's hometown to face off the enemy home team. Yes, it ends as you would imagine, but along the way the writer and director manage to make a few healthy comments about being true to yourself and your convictions.
Despite everything predictable about the film, the actors - Brückner, Roth, Potthoff, Bär, Carlo Ljubek, Saskia Vester et al - bring a homespun credibility to the story. This is one of those films that requires forgiving its shortcomings to just enjoy the ride.
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