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next goal wins

starring: michael fassbender, oscar kightley, kaimana, and david fane

REVIEWER: lyall carter

The story of the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0.

Taika Waititi has been flying high in Hollywood, the director every studio and star wants to work with. But here in Next Goal Wins he returns to his cinematic roots, with a film that feels similar in substance, style, and humour to his earlier films like Eagle vs. Shark and Boy. While perhaps not reaching the lofty heights of Hunt for the Wilderpeople or Jojo Rabbit, Next Goal Wins is still a film with a heartfelt story at its centre and filled with plenty of laughs. Pretty majestical. 

Directed by Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok), Next Goal Wins  follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001. With the  World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen  (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team around. 

On the surface Next Goal Wins looks like another sports flick where a ragtag bunch of players come together to triumph in their chosen sporting pursuit. But it’s a little bit more nuanced than that. They aren’t focused on winning but merely scoring one single goal. 

This is the lens in which this story is to be seen; a group of people coming together for the love of the game, each other, and their country. The comparison between this team and their new coach Mr. Rongen, who just wants to win, is where all the heart and laughs are to be found. And Next Goal Wins has the feel of Oscar Kightley’s Bro Town humour throughout: a bit awkward, but bloody hilarious. 

One of the things that I loved so much about Next Goal Wins is that I could recognise so many of the people that I know and do life in the Pasifika characters. To see them represented on the big screen was a real joy to behold.

While perhaps not reaching the lofty heights of Hunt for the Wilderpeople or Jojo Rabbit, Next Goal Wins is still a film with a heartfelt story at its centre and filled with plenty of laughs. Pretty majestical. 

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