Football Days

Football Days


Reviewed by: Nick Jones

When you hear a sports-related film title, such as Football Days, it would be understandable to get that sinking feeling, especially when the movie is billed as a comedy. Take Dodgeball and Kingpin, two very funny films, in which the premise is essentially the same, and you know exactly what formula to expect in advance. A bunch of losers take part in some sort of tournament. They get repeatedly battered and humiliated before eventually winning against all the odds. As long as you can accept the predictability and ride with it, the sports comedy can be highly entertaining when done well.

To its credit, David Serrano's Football Days is slightly different and not just because it's Spanish. The football element serves as backdrop to a more important subject matter, the personal failings of six thirtysomething friends who all have problems with the women in their lives. Any sense of glory is played down, too, which is wholly refreshing.

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The result is a film that is nowhere near as funny as either Kingpin or Dodgeball. Ultimately, it lacks the quality of gags. There are too many characters vying for our attention, many of whom remain underdeveloped and we couldn't care less about them.

Antonio (Ernesto Alterio) is fresh out of prison and determined to change his ways. Suffering from a Joe Pesci-style temper, he is always getting himself into trouble, but during his time behind bars he has developed a love for psychology. He tells his friends that he wants to go to college to study it. They laugh at him, but he pursues it anyway. Meanwhile, he starts psychoanalysing his friends and sees faults in all of them. They are either sleeping around, not getting laid, or are unloved by their wives and Antonio takes it upon himself to help them. However, his unsubtle, overtly physical techniques of persuasion fail to win them over.

His greatest concern is his brother-in-law Jorge (Alberto San Juan), whose wife, his sister, has run off with another man. He decides that by winning something, Jorge will regain a sense of achievement and self-belief and be able to rebuild his life. Jorge agrees to starting a seven-a-side soccer team and the friends join a league. Needless to say, they have their amusing idiosyncrasies - Antonio fights with anyone who tackles him, poser Serafin carries his mobile on the pitch, etc - and all are totally useless. But, unlike other sports films, they don't get any better. And that is funny.

Off the pitch, Football Days is not short of ideas and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Any scene with Jorge is entertaining. San Juan's over-the-top performance creates an excruciating sense of dread every time he is alone with a woman. The scene in which his ex bumps into him in a restaurant, unaware that his new girlfriend is "servicing" him under the table, is particularly memorable.

For all its good moments, however, Football Days doesn't know what it wants to be. One minute it is trying to make a point about relationships, the next indulges in odd farcical scenes that seem out of place - the guy who goes cross-eyed every time he kisses a girl seems especially pointless.

With a multitude of characters, no real focus and an overly long duration, it almost sounds like a Robert Altman film, but unfortunately lacks his style. As a quirky comedy, it is enjoyable enough, but if you want to laugh at men with anger management issues, Analyze This would be money more wisely spent.

Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2005
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Football Days packshot
Failed Spanish Lotharios start a seven-a-side soccer team.
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Director: David Serrano

Writer: Mischa Alexander, David Serrano, Jean van de Velde

Starring: Alberto San Juan, Ernesto Alterio, Natalia Verbeke, Pere Ponce, Fernando Tejero, Roberto Alamo, Secun de la Rosa, Luis Bermejo, Nathalie Poza

Year: 2003

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain


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