Movie Review – Next Goal Wins


Underdog sports movies are their own special kind of film. From Dodgeball to the Mighty Ducks there is something we love about a story where David combats the Goliath of sportsball but what if the the stakes were a lot lower, like Cool Runnings but instead of winning a gold medal it was to not have the bobsled catch on fire? Welcome to the new film, Next Goal Wins.

Sports movies aren’t usually our niche but we decided to make an exception with this coming from JoJo Rabbit, Thor Ragnarök & What We Do in the Shadows writer/director Taika Waititi we had to match an exception for this one. Actually drawing on a documentary about true events of a soccer (football) team from American Samoa who held the record for the biggest loss in a single game to the Socceroos of 31-0, this is a rags to slightly better rags story.

The film starring Magneto as a fired professional American Soccer coach (so not an American) is sent from the American Soccer association to American Samoa. A smaller island to the East of Samoa (which is East of Australia and past Fiji for the geographically challenged). The small nation is the southern most territory of the United States and only one of two ‘American’ territories south of the equator but beside the name it definitely has more in common with the Polynesian Samoa than America in terms of population except for maybe American missionaries which is a big point in the film.

As mentioned in the film Magneto aka the Android in Prometheus (we were going to go with an Assassin’s Creed reference here but forgot the character name) as mentioned is a Professional Soccer/Football coach who was sent to the island after separating from his wife and having a very public meltdown during a game.

While his professional coaching career had been very much about winning championships the stakes in American Samoa are significantly lower with the national team having not scored a single game since their 31-nil defeat with the head of the Football Federation of American Samoa wanting only one thing – to score one goal.

Being directed by Taika Waititi the film of course has a lot of comedy about it but it is being played as a serious film with real people and real lives being the basis including the character of Jaiyah a trans player on the men’s national soccer team with the real Jaiyah actually performing ‘stunts’ for the film. The film has a lot of laugh out loud moments which do make you wonder how many actually happened that way in real life.

Having more in common with Hunt for the Wilderpeople of Boy than Love and Thunder the film benefits a lot from being shot against Hawaii as a stand-in for American Samoa for the most part, but this is exactly the type of feel good, warm and fuzzies low states story with the touch of humour you want for this time of year.

So, should you go see it? Like we mentioned this is the warm and fuzzies type film and of course a sportsball one so for some that will be an automatic watch or skip, but if you are a fan of Taika’s non-Marvel work this is a strong addition to it. Next Goal Wins is not the biggest film you will watch this year but it is definitely a worthy one to start 2024 on.

Next Goal Wins is in cinemas across Australia from New Years Day

Andrew B

Current Resident of Reality C-137. Possible Robot from Westworld. Does lots of random stuff.

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Andrew B
Current Resident of Reality C-137. Possible Robot from Westworld. Does lots of random stuff.
movie-review-next-goal-winsNext Goal Wins joins an esteemed pedigree of underdog story films (that more than a few come from Disney) to have you cheer on a true life story of a team who lost so badly that if you google "Top 5 worst World Cup defeats" they will come up as #1, but aim to redeem themselves by not winning their division, their next game, but just after one goal. Co-written and directed by Taika Waititi this has a lot of humour injected in the retelling of some actually happened (and they even made a documentary about it) events. P.S. There is a little something after the credits, you thought there wouldn't be, but there is. So maybe just hang out in the cinema aircon for a little bit longer.