Goal II: Living the Dream
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jaume Collet-Serra
scr Adrian Butchart, Mike Jefferies, Terry Loane
with Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Rutger Hauer, Elizabeth Peña, Leonor Varela, Nick Cannon, Sean Pertwee, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Iker Casillas
release UK 9.Feb.07
07/UK Buena Vista 1h55

Dream a little dream: Becker and friend

nivola friel dillane
See also:
Goal! (2005) Goal III (2009)
Goal II: Living the Dream The second chapter of the Fifa-sponsored global football saga carries on exactly as the first film, with a lively visual style, the integrated presence of top players and a story that wallows in cliches.

After playing for 18 months in Newcastle, our hero Santi Muñez is poached by the even bigger leagues, namely Real Madrid and Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul and Santi's old pal Harris (Nivola). His fiancee Roz (Friel) is less than thrilled at uprooting their life. And she's not even thinking about the temptations of fame and wealth that lie ahead. Of course, it's not smooth sailing for Santi, his manager (Dillane) and the gruff team coach (Hauer). Santi has lessons to learn, and a long-lost mother (Peña) to find.

Even though the story is thoroughly contrived and badly sanitised, it's intriguing to watch and well-played by the engaging cast. Becker pulls off the transformation from scruffy rookie to swaggering celebrity nicely, and juggles the various plotlines well--romance, personal drama, career politics, and so on. He's so likeable that we're willing to accept the simplistic story threads and clunky dialog. Other cast members struggle--Dillane with the moralising speeches, Friel with the faux emoting. Although Hauer has the coach's glower down pat.

Spanish director Collet-Serra (House of Wax) gives the film a driving energy and a lush visual tone, although the football scenes feel far too heavily edited and digitally tampered with--several of them are both implausible and incoherent. And while it once again feels like a gigantic advert for football and, this time, Spanish tourism, at least the entire film pulsates with energy.

Where the first chapter examined rags-to-riches stardom, this one looks at the stresses and challenges of celebrity as Santi disappoints his coach, his manager, his girlfriend, his family, himself. The rollercoaster structure feels completely fake, right down to a ludicrous car chase. But there are some very nice scenes along the way, most notably when Santi meets his mother, and also some thrilling football action. It also sets us up well for the World Cup in Part 3.

cert 12 themes, language, some violence 8.Jan.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Goal II: Living the Dream Julie Stenner, Cardiff, Wales: 5/5 "It was brilliant, just as good as the first one, can't wait for number three!" (6.Feb.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall