Goal II was on television the other day. You know the one, it’s the second film in the Hollywood football trilogy about a wide eyed Mexican everyman puppy thing who dreams of becoming an unrealistic footballer and bedding a Geordie nurse.
I’m still undecided on Goal II. I’ve decided it’s bad of course, obviously, but I’m undecided whether it’s bad enough to be good, or just simply bad. It’s better than Goal I, by which I mean it’s worse, making it much better at being bad, and thus closer to being good, than it’s predecessor – which isn’t remotely bad enough to be good, merely just bad enough to be bad – but certainly not on a par of badness with Goal III, which isn’t even good enough to be considered bad in the first place it’s so terrible, and thus clearly unable to be bad enough to be good, if you catch my drift.
I think I’ve decided that I don’t think it is. Bad enough that is. I think it retains just enough goodness to be merely bad, though it does put in a sterling effort towards the end by way of a comically fascinating Champions League Final tussle with Arsenal and their imaginary wunderkind TJ Harper (the kind of ludicrous Americanised name dreamed up by someone called Brock in a lunch meeting in LA) and some fantastically Shaolin Soccer-esque swerving kung fu super shots. Not to mention the fact that both teams seem to be playing with at least four strikers, what with the film’s writers clearly unable to invent any imaginary characters that could possibly be, say, combative defensive midfielders and not clichéd party boy forwards who score a suspicious amount of Lineker-esque tap ins that can be conveniently filmed from behind the goal.
Where Goal II succeeds in it’s goodness (or badness) however, is in this very same overblown comic book drama. Goal I played it too safe in a presumed attempt to be realistic. It downplayed the footballing romance to the perfectly imaginable (well, for the time) task of getting a still Shearer-some Newcastle into Champions League qualification, and whilst that’s all very commendable in a “well that could’ve plausibly happened” type of a way, real football often works on a much higher platform of romance and wish fulfilment than it’s cinematic counterpart.
Take the case of Javier Hernandez, Manchester United’s very own wide eyed Mexican everyman puppy thing, who has been busily going about the business of scoring dramatic late winners in important Premiership and Champions League ties for seven months now without anyone batting an eyelid or even having to suffer the obligatory turbulent beginnings/middle period where he falls over in the rain a lot and gets bullied by Gary Neville. In fact such a dream start has “The Little Pea” (a name that’s encouraged me to now codify my trips to the bathroom as “going for a Chicharito”, much to everyone’s annoyance) made that if his first season in Manchester were to be adapted into a mega-bucks Hollywood franchise, no one would take it seriously.
Sports dramas often suffer from his paradox, in stark contrast to most other biopic genres, where the dramatisation of events only serves to make them less interesting than their real world counterparts. The best footballing narratives would stretch the credibility of a film and have you yearning for the days of Sean Bean taking a last minute penalty against a suspiciously fat Man United side despite it being his first professional start and him clearly pushing forty.
Hernandez’s meteoric rise has also evaded the usual media rights of passage hype by virtue of the fact he isn’t English. With less domestic starts and more goals than Andy ‘£35m’ Carroll and more World Cup strikes to his name than Wayne Rooney the boy is a genuinely brilliant find, and it’s not hard to imagine the red top clamour had he been snapped up as a product of the Maidstone youth set up a la Chris Smalling and not arrived by way of the Mexican scouting system. Even more significantly, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have seen the potential of a first team partnership with Rooney, leapfrogging even the Solskjaer-like cult super sub expectations of United’s most optimistic fans.
At 22, his progress shows no signs of abating any time soon, baring a jinx-worthy Michael Owen like crock-attack, and if his pride filled badge-kissing enthusiasm is anything to go by (which if the history of badge kissing has taught us anything, it’s not) then he could very well end up as one of those players who’s name unexpectedly creeps up on the all time Premiership scorers list like a Hasselbaink or Heskey before his time in England is out. Forget the signing of the season, he could be the signing of the decade. Which considering it’s only one year old, is already looking a good bet for at least another 12 months.
Screw Hollywood, give me he real world any day.
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