Established in 1884, Redbridge Rovers F.C. are one of the oldest club's in England - and one of the worst. A new sitcom introducing us to the characters who gather within the social club of a non-league football club.
Robert Kenner is a lonely man looking for love. Today, if he can actually get his boss to give him some time off, he is going on his first date for 6 years. Oh, and he is also the world's only SuperHero.
While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her ... See full summary »
Suffering from the double disability of being both blind and a fervent Leeds United supporter, social worker Lee longs for nothing more to ease the frustrations of daily life than "a damn good kick-about". His unhinged colleague Charlie decides to make his dream come true, and inveigles him onto a local works football team. But will Lee ever get to exercise his preternatural talent for the penalty kick?
"The Penalty King" is an eccentric tale with a dark underside, although still more "Strictly Ballroom" than "Kes". Played by Nick Bartlett as a tightly-wound knot of barely contained aggression, Lee invites neither pity nor sympathymore the impulse to duck behind a pillar when you see him coming. It's fair to say blindness is the least of his problems.
One senses writer/director Chris Cook went to some pretty dark places in his life for the raw materials for this fable, leading to an unsettling blend of truth and fantasy. For example, the portrait of the dank, dysfunctional social services depot where Lee works is both grotesquely over-the-top and strangely accurate. There's also a depth to the rest of the characters which is unusual in a comedy. Played with relish by a strong supporting cast, they're all pretty much bent or damaged too, and there's a violent and bitter edge to their relationships which undercuts the whimsy.
"Penalty King" might never achieve the crossover success of "Bend it like Beckham" but it still has all the makings of a cult favourite. It may lack a cart-wheeling Keira Knightley, but there are compensations, notably in the shape of the delightful but underused Clare Grogan (as Lee's bossy-boots boss), who still has the ability to make men of a certain age go weak at the knees. Her drunk scenes alone are worth the price of admission.
The film takes its own time to get going, and occasionally over-indulges itself, but can nevertheless sit alongside classics like "Sideways" and "Withnail and I" as an exploration of less creditable sides of the male psyche. An agreeable if not totally uplifting movie then, and, while something of a rough diamond, a gem all the same.
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