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Lowly Gillingham Football Club are drawn against Premiership giants Newcastle United in the quarter finals of the FA Cup. A small group of 'Gills' fans decide to make the most of their 'game of a lifetime' by turning the journey north into a weekend away. On the eve of departure one of the group receives a visit from Terry, a man with no legs in a wheelchair, claiming he can get them a free minibus and free diesel. In return, all they have to do is take him with them! Written by
Away Days Productions Limited
After a quick skim through of the other reviews here, it would seem that I'm not alone when I say that although this low-budget independent film has its moments, it really simply tries too hard to pack too much substance into a film that doesn't particularly need too much to be an enjoyable experience. I'll try not to give too much away, but the film basically involves a trip by Gillingham football supporters up to Newcastle (at the other end of the country, about 300 miles away).
One odd thing I will mention which I don't think really gives anything away is the film's opening. It starts on a blank screen as you hear a few guys talking to each other about star signs. Naturally, you assume that these are the film's main characters -- but it turns out that they are only featured in one scene. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it just seems like a strange way to open the film. And the song "Tom Hark" is played to death in the travel scenes -- a bit more variance on the score would have been nice.
But the main reason why this film fails to deliver is simply because it tries too hard to be more than it needs to be. The cast largely consists of stock characters (oligatory fat bloke who farts a lot, lovable old grandad and so forth) but this could be entirely forgiven if the movie didn't try to take itself so seriously and juggle so many simultaneous story lines: It doesn't help matters that these side-stories involve pretty heavy material (which I won't give away). There are some rather large pinches of salt you have to take with the plot (an entire coachload of people fails to recognise the difference between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Newcastle-under-Lyme, for example), but this also could be put aside if this attempt at a "charming British film" had been properly executed.
The film's only main female character is the aforementioned lovable old grandad's flirtatious grand-daughter, who seems to have been put into the film simply to appeal to that Soccer AM-watching demographic of young teenagers. It's given away pretty early that the girl has been away for a very long time and the grandfather wants to take her to see his favourite football team. However, although the young lady's back-story is that she's been travelling the world (they mention pretty much every country as somewhere she has been to), she simply isn't presented in a way that matches this introduction and thus is somewhat implausible. The film-makers also try too hard to make you find the girl attractive, which ironically has the opposite effect, as with the greatest respect to the actress the character presented is a complete slapper.
The film would have been much better had it starred the two main characters going alone up to Newcastle and meeting all of the supporting characters along the way in the service-stations, pubs and so forth. As it is, it tries to carry more weight than it can hold. Overall, it is still not by any means a bad film, and it does have some very good moments -- but don't watch this expecting a cheery booze-and-football "buddy film". It tries to present real-life football fans in a real-life setting, but in doing so it tries to be far more than it needs to be, and this ultimately lets it down. It's still worth a watch if you get the chance, but don't expect a masterpiece.
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