Goal! The Dream Begins
I’d be screaming too with a case of elephantitis that bad!

Theatrical Release Date: 05/12/2006
Director: Danny Cannon
Cast: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane

As a red-blooded American citizen, I’ve never much warmed to soccer (or football if you prefer).

While it’s a great sport to watch live, and the World Cup has its own particular draw, generally speaking, watching soccer on TV is sort of like playing that electric football game where the players just spin around in circles.

Without the ability to see the whole field, one misses the nuances of the sport and because soccer matches are rarely of the 15-13 variety, you can spend hours watching evenly matched teams play defense until one lucky shot squeezes through and the team imitates a squadron of planes strafing the harbor.

In “Goal! The Dream Begins”, our protagonist is an illegal immigrant living in Los Angeles who is discovered by an ex-footballer from England. He travels across the Atlantic and tries out for Newcastle United … if you seriously don’t know where this type of film is going, you’re a few eggs short of an omelette.

While it is as formulaic and predictable as Lindsay Lohan leaving rehab, I will admit that I enjoyed this film.

Kuno Becker, in the lead role, is a likable character that is exactly the kind of guy we all root for. I’ll even let it pass somewhat that I thought they played the sympathy card a few too many times with the character.

Perhaps most responsible to why I liked this film (or even saw it in the first place) is Alessandro Nivola. He is such a charismatic actor and I continue to be drawn to his characters almost enough to question my own sexuality. (Don’t worry ladies, I haven’t crossed over yet … oh, you weren’t worried … you don’t really care … I … know.)

Trying to save face, I want to mention that the love interest in the film (Anna Friel) is supremely hot and I really have to visit England sometime soon. She also lends a wonderful sense of heart and helps to ground Becker’s character as his stock begins to rise in the soccer world.

Really, the biggest downsides to the film are the predictability, overplayed score and far too much sentimentality. If you can get past that, there’s a lot to like here.

I’m giving “Goal! The Dream Begins” a 3 out of 5. Having looked this film up online, I see that there has already been one sequel and another is in production. I have a sneaking suspicion that turning this into a franchise is a bad idea, but with all the major actors reprising their roles, I’m going to make an effort to prove myself wrong.