Next Goal Wins will have you cheering for the American Samoa soccer team.
Thor: Love and Thunder‘s Taika Waititi’s latest venture is “Next Goal Wins.” The New Zealand director takes on the challenge of transforming a real-life sporting catastrophe into a heartwarming underdog comedy. The film chronicles the American Samoa soccer team’s journey from infamy following their 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001 to redemption in the World Cup Qualifiers under the guidance of maverick coach Thomas Rongen, played by X-Men‘s Magento himself, Michael Fassbender.
At its core, the movie is a feel-good experience.
It had me chuckling and cheering for the underdog team. The American Samoa soccer team’s struggle to shed its title as the world’s worst soccer team is portrayed with humor and sincerity, providing the audience with a rollercoaster of emotions. The camaraderie among the players, their determination, and the inevitable triumphs make “Next Goal Wins” a genuinely heartwarming tale that leaves you with a smile.
However, the film has its flaws.
Taika Waititi’s presence, both in front of the camera and as the narrator, cheapens the overall experience. While Waititi’s previous works have garnered praise for their unique humor and storytelling, his insertion into “Next Goal Wins” feels forced and somewhat egotistical. This decision detracts from the film’s authenticity and raises questions about the director’s approach. After Thor: Love and Thunder, it was best for Taika to take a break and re-evaluate his style of filmmaking.
Although talented, Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Coach Thomas Rongen may leave audiences feeling that the actor is too good for the role. Any competent actor could have filled the shoes of the soccer coach without significantly altering the film’s impact. Fassbender’s talent is wasted on a character that could have been more nuanced and challenging. One of the film’s major drawbacks is its need for a clear identity. “Next Goal Wins” borrows heavily from other sports comedies like “Dodgeball,” “Bad News Bears,” and “Cool Runnings,” never quite establishing its unique voice. This identity crisis results in a forgettable viewing experience, leaving the audience longing for a more original and memorable narrative.
I give “Next Goal Wins” 3 out of 5 stars. It offers a heartwarming and entertaining underdog story that elicits laughs and cheers. Despite its flaws, including Taika Waititi’s questionable role and the film’s lack of a distinct identity, it remains an enjoyable experience for those seeking a feel-good sports comedy.