Animated tale featuring a foosball table whose players all come to life in order to help their owner, Amadeo (Rupert Grint), defeat his town’s returning tyrant who is desperate for vengeance after Amadeo beat him at the table when they were kids, the only time he was ever beaten at anything, and despite becoming a real life international football star he hasn’t been able to come to terms with the humiliation ever since. This is an Argentinian film that has been dubbed in English and bizarrely, the people in charge of doing the English language version have taken the opportunity to play politics by making the winning foosball team English, with a few foreign players, and the side that is always beaten (Amadeo has never lost a game and seems to always play the same side – one could be forgiven for thinking the table was rigged) is entirely comprised of Scotsmen as far as we can tell. The English captain suggests that they have to work as one and are stronger together, which couldn’t be more obviously referencing the upcoming independence referendum next month, and the heavy suggestion that ‘we are better together because you are shite by yourself’ is unlikely to have the desired effect on voters. Why even go there? They could easily have mixed up the nationalities and kept this ‘better together’ theme going, and their direct referencing is surely going to fly over the heads of their young target audience anyway.
It reminds me of a perfectly pleasant and thought provoking debate on the matter I had with a young gentleman from England in the pub the other day, pleasant, that is, until he put his hands on his hips and triumphantly declared ‘And we both know who gets the most money out of the union,’ he smirked, ‘Scotland, haw haw’. Needless to say he wasn’t looking so pleased with himself when I burned him alive and scattered his ashes around Edinburgh Castle. I mean, it’s possible he’s right – but that’s the point, no one really does seem to know for sure.
As a worthy aside since the film attempts to also dis Scotland’s footballing credentials, England’s media love to laboriously mention they won the World Cup in 1966 (although many of you might have picked up on how little they mentioned that fact during this year’s Brazilian tournament – this is a direct result of the looming vote), but they are less inclined to remind people that during the following British Home Championship it was Scotland that was the first to beat that very same team. Nor were they terribly happy when we beat them at the last ever international to be played at the old Wembley Stadium, in fact they were so miffed they fudged in another international to avoid the humiliation (which they also lost anyway, one nil to Germany). Indeed, the Unofficial Football World Cup actually has Scotland sitting at the top of the all time rankings table, and England’s worst home defeat ever was to Scotland, 6 – 1 way back in 1881.
Although it is fair to say Scottish football at this precise moment in time leaves a lot to be desired. Personally, The Red Dragon thinks they should ban foreign players and managers and just focus on the game for the people of the country – levelling the playing field, increasing domestic support and promoting home talent until we have a decent international team again, get rid of the reliance on business and money and focus on the game. They should promote women’s football as much as the men’s too – it’s just as good, in fact they should have a friendly between the two national teams every year.
Anyway, back to the film – you can often tell the quality of the animation you’re dealing with by looking at how well they render the humans, and here that quality is definitely running at a minimum. The foosball players look much better, but backgrounds and secondary characters are predominantly basic and sometimes even garish, although the creative camera flourishes of director Juan José Campanella do occasionally shine through (Campanella directed best foreign film Oscar winner ‘The Secrets in their Eyes’ 09). The story plods on uninterestingly until the finale is set up – an actual football game between the residents of the town against villain Flash (Anthony Head) and his professional teammates. A match which is to decide the fate of the town, and one that is oddly not as one sided as the recent Germany vs Brazil semi-final. Here the film picks up and delivers a rewarding ending, but there’s not much of value in the rest of the movie, and the animated players spend most of the time just trying to find each other before giving a prep talk to Amadeo, ultimately not doing a great deal over the course of the film.