Thursday, January 19, 2006

Review: Bend it like Beckham

This is not a deep movie. It's a comedy hybrid of the inspirational sports movie and the cultural comedy. Set in Britain, the story is of a soccer mad high schooler (Jessie) about to graduate who is sported by a local member of the women's soccer team (Jules). Since her (Indian) parents don't approve, Jessie plays with Jules' team without their knowledge, lying about having a summer job. What follows is a series of misunderstandings, betrayals, followed by the film's inspirational message driven home with all the subtlety of a soccer ball headed into the net.

That said, I liked the film quite a bit. Soccer to me is still the sport I grew up with (despite never being any good at it), and is to me a far more beautiful game than American football. The game flows with an intensity and grace that makes top level play enjoyable to watch. And of course, in particular, the USA dominates women's soccer despite a sporting culture that doesn't comprehend the off-side rule (hilariously explained during the movie by Jules' dad as an aside) or the concept that a sport might exist without advertising breaks. That makes the entire film and its premise (that being given a soccer scholarship to Santa Clara University would be a great thing to have) somewhat believeable.

The cultural comedy aspect is enjoyable and very funny, even to Lisa who is not as much of a fan of Indian food as I am. So two thumbs up. This is a delightful film to watch when you're down with a cold and your brain isn't working (which was Lisa's state of mind when watching it), or when you're just in the mood for something light. The message is heavy handed but fits its genre. Just don't expect to come away from the movie with a good understanding of the off-side rule.
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