This year, Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional equivalent of the NBA or the NFL, is entering its tenth season and enjoying a steadily growing fan base. Soccer fandom in the U.S. hasn't yet reached the critical mass that it enjoys in the rest of the world, where "football" is often a rowdy obsession, but it has come a long way from the obscurity players labored in earlier in the century. That bygone era of U.S. soccer is the subject of the latest cinematic sports offering from the filmmaking team of David Anspaugh and Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers, Rudy).

The Game of Their Lives tells the true story of the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team that pulled off a stunning upset over the top-ranked British team in the first round of that year's tournament in Brazil. The United States was so much the underdog that The New York Times initially refused to run the score, thinking it was a hoax. It's a story that deserves to be told, but, unfortunately, The Game of Their Lives doesn't quite do it justice.

The narrative centers largely around the interpersonal dynamics of the team, comprised of a somewhat ragtag bunch of players from The Hill, a neighborhood of Italian immigrants in St. Louis, and a more refined contingent from the East Coast. The two camps fling a few ethnic and class barbs at one another before getting down to the business of figuring out how to win (or at least not look really bad while losing). In the process, two leaders emerge—halfback Walter Bahr (Wesley Bentley, most notable for his role in American Beauty) for the Yanks and goalie Frank Borghi (Gerard Butler recently of The Phantom of the Opera and Dear Frankie) for the boys from The Hill. Together they rally the troops, convince Haitian immigrant and dishwasher ...

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The Game of Their Lives
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG (for some mild language and thematic elements)
Directed By
David Anspaugh
Run Time
1 hour 41 minutes
Cast
Gerard Butler, Wes Bentley, Jay Rodan, Gavin Rossdale
Theatre Release
August 26, 2005 by IFC Films
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