Lowdown: A group of poor misfits competes on a big time rugby tournament.
When I watch a football game involving teams I have no particular affection towards I generally find myself rooting for the underdog. It seems the decent thing to do and it’s what most people tend to do in such situation, if only for the love of watching a good competition. Films have been exploring this underdog sports phenomena for a while now, with the first Rocky probably being the most famous of the genre (we tend to forget how that first film in the series was actually a good film). 2006’s Footy Legends carries that underdog flame to the western suburbs of Sydney.
Our hero is an Aussie of Vietnamese origins. His mother died and he’s looking after his little sister and his grandfather, an ex anti-commie fighter (who’s at an old people’s place). However, our hero is not doing a particularly good job at it and he’s frustrated with not being able to find a job. Then he learns of a rugby tournament he can apply to, so his bunch of unlikely misfits join hands to form a team. Comprising of migrants of various origins, a guy helplessly in love with his unappreciative neighbor and a guy whose partner is in jail, our footy legends go to defy all odds as they fight adversaries on the pitch and tackle social and personal issues on their way.
There is not that much to be said in virtue of Footy Legends. It is as basic an underdog Cinderella story as one can imagine, following the formula to the letter with terrifying predictability. This is no Hollywood production either, with obviously meagre budgets that make the film feel more like a home video than something that was actually released to the cinemas.
Yet there is something going for Footy Legends. Sure, it’s miracles are just too unnatural to accept, but it is a film that doesn’t shy from showing you things normally left out of the over clinical film presentations that usually grace our screens. Footy Legends has got some scary characters as the good guys, it lacks characters that are particularly handsome, and all its leads live in pretty below average houses and drive old models… I guess what I’m trying to say is that Footy Legends feels authentic. Being set in Sydney, rather than some unnamed American suburb, helps there too.
Worst scenes: The way our team of heroes always go from being thumped in the first half through to a miraculous recovery at the very end is just too predictable. We’ve seen this too many times not to watch Footy Legends and be completely cynical about the experience.
Overall: A bad film, but its local setting and grassroots feeling earn it 2.5 out of 5 stars. Guess you could say this is a very basic feel good film.