The year is 1984, and former Manchester United manager – and legend – Sir Matt Busby is struggling with retirement, missing the adrenaline and exhilaration from a life in the dugout, and haunted by the memories of the Munich Air Disaster, which saw a large proportion of his team and staff killed. However when he stumbles across the talented youngster Georgie Gallagher (Jack Smith), he finds his passion returns, and is inspired to try and lead the 11-year-old kid and his teammates to glory in a local football tournament. However whether Georgie will be involved remains to be seen, as the mischief-maker continues to get in trouble off the pitch.
There’s a poignant collaboration of generations in this title, focusing in on a man reliving his past, overcome with nostalgia, to a kid focusing on the future and what lies ahead, creating a balance that makes for an affable piece of filmmaking. The implications of the tournament are well-judged also, as despite it being a very inconsequential 7-a-side tournament for kids, it’s made to feel so epic, as Scheinmann plays on the tropes of the archetypal sport movie, leading up to a grand final. For kids, it does feel so special, and so important, irrespective of reality, and this captures that sentiment perfectly. What helps proceedings is a commendable turn from Smith in his debut feature film, matched, of course, by a brilliant Brian Cox.
Unfortunately, however, the film feels as though it has been cheapened somewhat in post-production. The conventional, cliched use of music in parts – not to mention the amateur opening titles – does not do the film justice, and devalues it accordingly. That being said, there is the occasional track that is incredibly well-implemented, with Madness, New Order and The Smiths all used, to truly give the viewer a flavour for the period the story is set.
Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to feel somewhat underwhelmed by this effort, as while the acting is impressive and the story so potentially engrossing, the picture does struggle to pack that emotional punch and allow for the viewer to feel as invested as they perhaps would have liked. It’s still a substantial lesson in how to manage a team, albeit one full of 11 year olds. Perhaps somebody should have sent this DVD to David Moyes, it may have taught him a thing or two.