Goal! The Dream Begins Movie Review
Goal!: The Dream Begins sat on my shelf for two weeks before I finally plugged in the DVD. Why? The title. Perhaps the title sounds good in Europe, but Goal!, by itself, is cheesy enough, and Goal! The Dream Begins is absolutely painful. No wonder the film flopped in American theaters.
Sadly, the movie itself is quite good. Starring little known Kuno Becker as a Mexican-American who is noticed by a British soccer scout, the movie follows Santiago Munez as he manages to defy his father and travel to English and earn a spot in tryouts for Newcastle United. Most of the movie is about his determination to overcome gigantic odds to win a permanant spot on the team and eventually play in a pro game. Along the way he struggles to make a relationship work with newfound and beautiful girlfriend (Anna Friel).
Becker, along with the rest of the cast, work well in their roles, and with every passing minute you get more and more involved with the characters. Santiago (Becker) faces so many challenges before making it to the big leagues that it becomes quite frustrating, and any time I get frustrated in that way when watching a movie, they must be doing something right.
As for the soccer, or football for all you foreigners out there, it is quite intense. I have never been a huge fan for the simple fact that I don't believe any sport should ever have a match that can end in a tie, but it is slowly growing on me and is thankfully super easy to understand (of course, I did play on a team for several years when I was little). Fans of the sport should take enjoyment in the fact that the movie takes the sport seriously and has plenty of action.
The film isn't without its flaws, however. Like most sports films, it is pretty predictable, especially if you're aware that there is a Goal! 2 already completed and a third one on the way - so obviously Santiago succeeds at the end. There are a few things thrown in for convenience, like Santiago's asthma. Halfway through the movie the director suddenly reveals to us that this is Santiago's one weakness, but it's brought in sort of suddenly for the immediate need to cause yet another setback. Had something like this been introduced at the beginning of the film, it would have been fine (why didn't he get asthma in California?). The shaky relationship between his father is also rather forced, and could have easily been left out.
Goal!: The Dream Begins is a fun and entertaining soccer movie that suffers from one big problem: its title. If you can get past that, it is well worth the two hours.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.