When Newcastle United soccer star Santiago Munez is offered a spot with Real Madrid, he accepts, but the move - accompanied by big money and fame - tests his ties and loyalties to family, friends and business acquaintances.
Up-and-coming sports reporter rescues a homeless man ("Champ") only to discover that he is, in fact, a boxing legend believed to have passed away. What begins as an opportunity to resurrect Champ's story and escape the shadow of his father's success becomes a personal journey as the ambitious reporter reexamines his own life and his relationship with his family.
Samuel L. Jackson,
Santiago's father, Hernan Munez, smuggled his penniless Mexican family over the US border to seek a better, albeit modest future in L.A. Eldest son Santiago dreams of more, like native Angelinos, then joining Hernan's gardening firm. His change arrives when a British ex-pro spots him as an exceptional soccer natural and promises he can arrange a real British talent scout to check him out. Although that falls trough and dad forbids it, Santiago accepts grandma's savings to try out with English premier league club Newcastle. Despite his asthma, he gets in and befriends the freshly transferred, desperately undisciplined bad boy star scorer, party animal Gavin Harris, who becomes his bothersome house-mate, a recipe for trouble and yet each's salvation. Written by
Michael Winterbottom was the original director of the film. Production had actually begun when he left the project because the Producers demanded the script to be finished prior to commencing Principal Photography. See more »
The Newcastle pub where Santi's father (and later his grandmother) are seen watching the televised match has a Fulham FC flag next to the TV set. See more »
One of the best movies this year--Great Family Film
This movie was tops! It's a great film pretty much anyone in your family could see and enjoy. The way it was released here in the States as a PG film with some scenes edited out, it's inoffensive enough. I've since gotten the DVD bootleg floating around here in New York and have seen the edited scenes. They really weren't necessary to make the film a good one (so you're not missing anything if you're only seeing the version released here in the States).
It was really nice to see less known actors in the roles. I'm personally sick and tired of the same little old crowd always getting parts in everything. It's a fantastic mixture when you can get an actor who is well known in Romania (Marcel Iures) but relatively unknown in the rest of the world and Kuno Becker (again known in Latin America but unknown to everyone else) and put them in a British film with a U.S. actor (Alessandro Nivola) along with British actors. Really clever, nice ethnic mix and an unusual one--less predictable than the usual casting that goes on out there--kinda opens the pool of actors that we're currently exposed to all the time.
A lot of people are complaining about the football (soccer) aspects of the movie saying that it's not real, etc. But I think they're failing to see that the movie is not about the sport itself (although I think there's a fair amount of that in there as well) as much as it is about the people who play it and some of the backstage politics that are linked with it. I thought these were shown tactfully and were just enough as they were coupled with the human factor --the lives of the players, their loves, their hates, competitive spirit, etc.
What was good about having a Latino as a protagonist in the film is that it shows the wider scope of fans football has. It is not only popular in Europe but in Latin America as well. The film could have easily gone down the eurocentric route of making the story about a European case, but this made it a bit more unusual and interesting. Since Santiago was an illegal immigrant who obviously took the great risk to come to the States and didn't really have much going for him here (as is the case for most illegal immigrants anyway and is becoming more and more true with the newer policies being undertaken here) his risk of going to England to try his luck there is completely plausible to me. I have actually seen similar things tried by other Latinos going to Europe to see if their luck is better there than here for obtaining residence, etc.
Some people may feel that the portrayal of the Latino family was stereotypical, but on the whole, I thought it was positive with the characters being honest and working hard for a living rather than being common hoodlums as they are sadly put forth in many films. Santiago was shown to be a modest young man who is not too full of himself and a generally likable character.
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