Review: Next Goal Wins is a Feel Good Underdog Story

By: Robert Prentice

Taika Waititi is back with his latest film covering the story around the American Samoa soccer team and how Thomas Rongen led them out of a funk after a 31-0 loss to Australia.

With the 2014 World Cup qualifiers approaching, down-on-his-luck coach Thomas Rongen tries to turn the American Samoa soccer team into winners.


Any time Taika Waititi helms a film or is in a film (or TV series), I take the time to check it out. His style of comedic energy is always so genuine and I love it. So of course here comes the story of the worst soccer team in the world and the story of how they went on after a record-setting loss against Australia 31-0. The film covers the story of the team seeking out a coach to help them at least make 1 goal, and how Thomas Rongen came to become their coach.

If you weren’t told up front that it was based on true events, you might have chalked up the wild events as being nothing more than comedic fiction. But fiction is not. Fassbender plays the Dutch soccer coach, and at times feels a little out of place for his typical roles but after a bumpy introduction to his character, he starts to grow on you as his feelings towards the team and island life start to grow on him too.

The film is just as much about his story of growth as it is about the American Samoa team and how each of them was ultimately recruited to the team. In true Taika Waititi, he adds embellishments to the story in order to keep the audience laughing and interested, and overall it pays off. Will Arnett and Rhys Darby play two douchy members of the soccer leadership who send Thomas to American Samoa to coach that team due to his own poor performance in his coaching jobs.

Will you learn anything about soccer by watching this movie? Just as the trailer said, no you won’t. But at the end of the day will you care? I didn’t. Sometimes a good solid underdog story with a funny comedic twist, and some Taika Waititi showing up in the story to poke some fun, is just what we needed in theaters.

Next Goal Wins is in theaters on November 17th.

Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Shopping cart
0 items Cart
My account