The first in a projected trilogy of films centered on a Mexican-American football star (that's
soccer to us in the United States),
GOAL! THE DREAM BEGINS is a fairly typical sports film.
It follows the outlines of the genre, presenting a hero who overcomes numerous obstacles
to achieve his heart's desire. Given the recent political climate regarding immigration, the film
has a more timely appeal than perhaps originally planned.

   When he was a child, Santiago Munoz and his family crossed  the Mexico-California border
illegally. Now a strapping young man (portrayed by the photogenic Kuno Becker), Santiago works
as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant and plays amateur football. His father Herman (Tony Plana)
harbors dreams of starting a father-son landscaping business while his grandmother
(Miriam Colon) encourages him to dream his own dreams.

   When a former British player and scout Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) spots Santiago, he
is convinced the kid has the stuff to play professionally. He informs Munoz that if he gets to
England, he will have a tryout with Newcastle United which is run by the German-born
Erik Dornhelm (Marcel Iures). Driven to pursue his dream, Santiago scrimps and saves.
But his father has other ideas -- he takes his son's hidden savings and buys a pickup truck
so they can start their own business. Grandmother comes to the rescue and the young man
is off to the United Kingdom (by way of Mexico since he's an illegal immigrant).

   Once in England, there's an adjustment period, a series of tryouts and some question as
to whether or not Santiago is cut out to play professionally. Even not knowing this is the initial
film in a trilogy, it is pretty clear that he eventually will make the team.

   The film's football milieu makes it somewhat exotic for American audiences. Becker,
who has a background in telenovelas, anchors the film with a strong performance and he is
ably supported by the large cast. In addition to those already  mentioned, Anna Friel appears
as a potential love interest and Alessandro Nivola nearly steals the movie as a hotshot player.

GOAL! THE DREAM BEGINS contours to the conventions of the sports movie, but
it does manage to score a few points.

                           Rating:                   C
                           MPAA Rating:       PG for language, sexual situations, and some
                                                                  thematic material including partying
                           Running time:        118 mins.

                                             Viewed at the Tribeca Cinemas
Goal! The Dream Begins
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.