Next Goal Wins (2023) Blu-ray Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

Taika Waititi masterfully combines humor with themes of identity in Next Goal Wins, highlighting his distinctive style.

In America, we play soccer.  The rest of the world plays fĂștbol and it is highly competitive, culminating in the FIFA World Cup that happens once every four years.  While some countries dominate the sport (England, Spain, Argentina, etc.), some of the other 200 national teams barely make a dent.  One such team, from America Samoa, was considered one of the worst, especially after losing to Australia in 2001 with a score of 31-0. To help, the Football Federation of America Samoa hired Dutch-American Soccer Coach Thomas Rongen to boost the team from last place to ...well, not last place. Next Goal Wins is the comedy film, based on the documentary of the same name, that comes out on Blu-ray this month.

America Samoa is so bad at soccer that they can't even find anyone to coach their national team.  Lucky for them, FIFA coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender; X-Men: First Class) is given two options, be fired or coach the America Samoan team. When he arrives on the beautiful, Polynesian Island, his anger turns to defeat as he sees exactly what he has to work with.  From the uncoordinated to the out-of-shape.

Fassbender does a great job of playing a man who at first seems one but by the end is revealed. To be more complex and layered.  Oscar Kitghtly (Sione's 2: Unfinished Business) delivers funny lines with deadpan sincerity making those moments even funnier than they should be and newcomer, transgender actor Kaimana offers an intensity with a hint of vulnerability that makes her stand out.  She and Fassbender share some terrific scenes together. The rest of the cast blends so well that they really come across as a cohesive team.

Director Taika Waititi (Joao Rabbit) knows how to entice an audience with not only interesting visuals but with well-placed humor while dealing with sensitive subject matters like gender identity and grief.  He has such an eclectic style of filmmaking and easily adapts depending on the tone of the film he is creating.  Of course, it is always fun as well to see how he inserts himself into one of his movies and his part in Next Goal Wins is no exception.

The 1080p resolution makes the video shine especially when we get overviews of an incredible tropical island.  The colors are vibrant and deep and the lush greens of the grass and trees offer shadings one wouldn't necessarily see often in nature.  Since the movie was filmed in Hawaii, we don't actually get to see the beauty of American Samoa but we do still get the Polynesian feel that is central to the ideas set forth in the plot.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is strong overall but slightly less sharp than the video.  Ambient noise is robust and well rounded but the dialogue occasionally gets lost in the mix.  The Blu-ray only has two extras totaling approximately 30 minutes which is a little disappointing.  They are The Pitch of Life and the "Priest Blessing the Team" Deleted Scene. I'm sure there are a number of outtakes that would have made a hilarious gag reel and should have been included.

Next Goal Wins is based on a true story and going into the film with that knowledge gives the story a slightly different meaning than if it had been completely made up.  Having said that, the film is well put together in Waititi's capable hands and offers up a few laughs that are sure to put a smile on your face.

This one won't win any Academy Awards but viewers will remember it long after the final end credit scene ends.

Grade: C+

Directed By:
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 104 minutes
Distributed By: Searchlight Pictures

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For more information about Next Goal Wins visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Next Goal Wins images are courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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