Reviewed by: James Benefield

The issue of gay men and women in football is a thorny one, with the sport being arguably one of the last bastions of homophobia in mainstream culture. The subject is something that is just waiting to be explored by a major film, television programme... a major anything, really. Unfortunately KickOff isn't going to do that. What we have here is a screaming mess of a movie that is just a few performances away from a waste of time.

Written and directed by polymath Rikki Beadle-Blair, the film sees a gay five-a-side football team put up against a more typical team from the inner city. The gay team, Platoon FC, is led by Archer (Ian Sharp) – a man who flinches at the flamboyant and the camp. Unfortunately for him, his team is comprised of some pretty extroverted characters, and one of them comes accompanied by a six-foot something, spaghetti-strap wearing gay foster father (played by Beadle-Blair). To add to the chaos, they have a first-time referee, Elton (Duncan MacInnes) who is more geek than Greek god.

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The first problem here is the tumbling structure. There's a football match buried somewhere in the film, but the teams keep taking time from the pitch to the point we lose a sense of time and focus. There's nothing wrong with a football film existing mainly on the sidelines, but when the dramatic tension is being sidelined, there's something wrong. There's plenty of cod-philosophical discussion about defining one's own sexuality and identity but Beadle-Blair loses sight of the fact this is supposed to be a film and not a seminar.

That said, it's the performances that bring the film to life. In particular, Beadle-Blair steals the few scenes he's in as Max, the motivational foster father. He provides the film's biggest laughs. His foster son, Maddox (Stephen Hoo) finds the right level of teenage angst without being irritating. And Duncan MacInnes brings a little soul to the pitch as the referee finding his feet.

However, when a film such as this finds all of its characters stripping off their shirts early on (to leave them off for the rest of the film), you do feel that the only people this will preach to would be the converted. It's a well-meaning movie peppered with some cute performances (not to mention cute guys), but some clumsy structuring and self-important dialogue means that, at best, the only goals being scored are home goals.

Reviewed on: 14 Apr 2011
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A gay five-a-side team take on a team from an inner city.
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