I love the World Cup. I mean I REALLY love it. The greatest sporting tournament the world has ever seen. Forget your Olympics, your Superbowl, your Topless Darts Championship, the football (or soccer if you recognise American independence, I don’t) World Cup is the beautiful game at its theoretical best. So in honour of the most watched sporting event in the universe here a selection of some of the best and worst football movies in existence.
1. Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Star player: Stephen Chow
How good is it? Imagine The Matrix crossed with Match of the Day and you’re pretty close. Stephen Chow plays a loser who loves kung-fu but laments the death of it in Chinese culture. He puts together a football team of martial-arts master monks on a quest to beat the aptly named Team Evil. Its a crazy film with lots of hilarious slapstick moments and over the top soccer matches. A plucky underdog that kicks ass as well as balls (wait, that didn’t sound right)
Team it resembles: The 1982 Northern Ireland team – underdogs who surprised the more experienced teams and knocked out the host country Spain!
2. Escape to Victory (1981)
Star player: Michael Caine
How good is it? Somehow Escape to Victory manages to be even more ridiculous than Shaolin Soccer. If you haven’t seen it, its the story of a group of WWII POWs who play in a football match against their Nazi captors while planning an elaborate escape. The heroes team consists of Pele, Michael Caine, a load of Ipswich Town players and Sly Stallone as their goalkeeper. I won’t spoil the ending which may be even more silly than what precedes it.
Country it resembles: Germany – dependable, always good to watch, you can never rule it out
3. Looking for Eric (2009)
Star player: Eric Cantona
How good is it? My favourite ever footballer/poet/philosopher/actor/fan-kicking frenchman Eric Cantona plays himself as the imaginary friend to a down on his luck postman. Cantona retired from football to pursue acting to varying success but he’s great here in this touching drama from Ken Loach. Not as grim as Loach’s usual misery, Looking for Eric is a treat.
Team it resembles: England – Good in theory but extremely mundane and vaguely irritating
4. Kicking and Screaming (2005)
Star player: Will Ferrell
How good is it? America has never really taken to proper football. Maybe its because they aren’t the best at it, maybe its because obese people can’t play it, or maybe its just too awesome for their bat swinging, helmet wearing sports people. Football is viewed as something for children to play which brings us to Kicking and Screaming, a Will Ferrell kids movie in the vein of The Mighty Ducks. Its good fun but displays a distinct lack of football knowledge.
Country it resembles: Belgium – Surprisingly good but probably won’t bother the top teams
5. Switching Goals (1999)
Star player: One of the Olsens, I can’t tell them apart
How good is it? What the fuck is this?!!! Burn it!!!
Team it resembles: Scotland – did not qualify
Have you got a favourite football film? Are you excited about the World Cup? Let me know this and anything else on your mind in the comments below. Gggggooooaaaallllllllllllllll!!!!