Off the field: Football-themed movies to check out

  • Lifestyle
  • Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014

Forget chicken noodle soup – cure your World Cup fever by watching these footie films.

Okay, let’s be honest. One or two (or to be absolutely honest, hundreds) of you will definitely call in sick to work or skip school in the next few weeks simply because you stayed up late rooting for your favourite football team and could not wake up in time to be a responsible adult/student.

It’s the World Cup season, after all.

Now that you find yourself at home and with way too many hours before the start of the next match and can’t go out lest you get spotted by a co-worker or worse, your boss, why not make use of this “free time” by catching up on some football-related movies?

(Ps: Just so we’re clear, The Star doesn’t condone this sort of behaviour, so don’t make it a habit!)

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

This is the movie that introduced us to Keira Knightley – didn’t see what the big deal was with her back then and still don’t. She wasn’t even the star of this film!

Parminder Nagra plays Jesminder Bhamra, an 18-year-old Punjabi girl infatuated with football. Unfortunately, her strict parents aren’t big fans of seeing their daughter play such a “rough” sport.

Jesminder defies her parents – what else could this movie be about? – an and joins an all-girls football team and helps them get to the top of their local league.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, this movie made quite the fuss back then and even encouraged some girls to hang their kitten heels and lace up their football boots.

She’s The Man (2006)

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this movie stars Amanda Bynes (back when she was still “normal”), Channing Tatum (back when he was still a nobody), Laura Ramsey and Vinnie Jones. It tells the story of Viola Hastings who enrols in her twin brother’s school in his place – yes, she pretends to a boy – just to play football with the fellas at Illyria.

Viola, as Sebastian, befriends the good-looking Duke Orsino and eventually finds herself in a tricky love triangle while trying hard to stay in disguise and more important, play football with the big boys.

The Game Of Their Lives (2005)

Did you know that Gerard Butler starred in a football movie? Yeah, neither did many other people.

However, before the heartthrob made his name as an A-lister, he appeared in this movie based on the true story of how the 1950 US football team beat England in a World Cup match.

Although the Americans didn’t go on to win the world-class tournament, the team made enough memories to make a movie out of it. This feel good film also stars Wes Bentley, Jay Rodan, Gavin Rossdale and more.

Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Although this movie is nowhere near as funny as other Stephen Chow movies, it still does make you guffaw now and then.

Shaolin Soccer tells the story of a bunch of down-in-the-dumps guys who come together to form a football team. Led by Sing, the team enters a football tournament only to come face-to-face with the abominable Team Evil who will do anything to stop its rivals from finding glory.

Like most of Chow’s movies, this too features many over-the-top action sequences but hey ... nobody said that this was a documentary, right?

A 21st Century Portrait (2006)

Zinedine Zidane, the French-born midfielder of Algerian descent, serves as subject for this 91-minute real-time profile, which tracks the athlete’s movements throughout the April 23, 2005 match between Zizou’s club Real Madrid and Spanish league opponents Villareal CF.

In a premonition of his 2006 World Cup Final appearance against Italy, Zidane was dismissed from the field of play in the closing stages of the game.

The Class Of ‘92 (2013)

David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and brothers Gary and Phil Neville were Manchester United’s Golden Generation: Six young players brought up from the club’s youth academy.

In this film, the men’s stories are told over a seven-year period, culminating with United’s Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League-winning season in 1999. With contributions from Zidane, Eric Cantona, and British filmmaker Danny Boyle.

Next Goal Wins (2014)

Taking its name from a popular children’s soccer rule, Next Goal Wins covers the fortunes of American Samoa’s national side, which hovers at the very bottom of FIFA’s world rankings table but in this film is displayed as an example of verve and courage against all odds as the team seeks qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The Damned United (2009)

See Michael Sheen of The Queen and Frost/Nixon in the lead role as iconic English club manager Brian Clough during his tumultuous and ultimately short-lived 44-day stint as boss of Leeds, set against the heady times of his title-winning success at Derby, with the knowledge that Clough then went on to repeat the championship feat at Nottingham Forest.

Based on The Damned Utd by David Peace.

Michael Sheen in The Damned United.

Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos (2006)

Brazilian footballer Pele is this documentary’s star and its most notable missing interviewee; members of football’s 1970s supergroup also included Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Johan Cruyff and Carlos Alberto, who were afforded rock star treatment as their team toured the United States.

But as those players gradually dispersed, the end of an era for the North American Soccer League was inevitable as obscurity beckoned once more. – AFP Relaxnews (additional reporting: SHARMILA NAIR/The Star)

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