Bend It Like Beckham

Starring:
  • Parminder K. Nagra
  • Keira Knightley
  • Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

 

 
Directed by Gurinder Chadha

"Do you really think I could fulfill my life long dream of playing with Brandy Chastain and the San Jose CyberRays?"

Note from shimes: With the re-release of arthouse hit Bend It Like Beckham for an August run in multiplexes, I chased down my man Jim Rome to get his take on this inspiring story of girls sports and soccer. Let's see if Van Smack comes strong and doesn't suck!

Rome is Burning About Bend It Like Beckham:

"Clones, Maybe I Just Don't Understand the Passion...and Creativity of Teenage Girls Who Worship a Soccer Player"

Clones, what is up! In Los Angelos, I am your host, Jim Rome. There are a lot of things I want to get to, so let's get to it, Clones. First, with my new TV show "Rome Is Burning," I haven't been able to grab a vine with the Filmsnobs since my epic, classic smackdown on Like Mike. You remember that one, right Clones? The movie featuring....Lil Bow...check it, just "Bow Wow"...throwing down on Allen Iverson and Jason Kidd. At the time, the take was, "Hey, what's up with putting wife beaters like Allen Iverson and Jason Kidd in a kid's movie? Uh, that can't be good...right? Maybe the NBA should use it's more respectable, fan-friendly stars for cameos in their orphans-in-the-Association movie."

You know, like Kobe Bryant.

But more on Kobe in a second.

Clones, I was in D-Town for the tour stop last weekend, and I had a few hours to kill. What was I going to do, Clones, GO TO A TIGERS GAME?

Um, no. As much as I want—no, NEED!—The Tigers to lose one hundred twenty games this year, I only want to think about it as an abstraction....I don't actually want to SEE it!

So the wife wanted to take our son to see Bend It Like Beckham. And let me tell you, Clones, NEVER HAS MORE PASSION...AND CREATIVITY GRACED THE SILVER SCREEN! I mean, this girl kicking a soccer ball in the park with boys....THE SKILL! THE PASSION! THE....CREATIVITY! There's about seven soccer montages in this movie, Clones, and I gotta say, I was worn down by all THE PASSION....AND CREATIVITY by soccer scene three. I mean, it takes so much more PASSION...AND CREATIVITY to kick the ball into the goal than it would to, say, THROW the ball into the goal. Or BAT the ball into the goal. But because they're KICKING the ball, Clones, THERE'S SO MUCH MORE PASSSION....AND CREATIVITY!

Ok, I've got to Reset this movie. This girl in England, Jess, wants to play...soccer, and she's really good, but her parents won't let her. They're Indian, and her culture prevents her from playing soccer. But because she has so much PASSION for soccer, she does it anyway. And who, Clones, inspires this PASSION...AND CREATIVITY?

Why none other than David Beck-a-ham, of course. You know Beck-a-ham, right Clones? The guy whose PHYSICAL was televised across Europe! I mean, I like Emmit Smith as much as the next NFL fan, but I wasn't glued to ESPN News to see Dr. Jellyfinger tell E to turn his head and cough so he could get greenlighted for the Arizona Cardinals. I guess in sports where they use their hands, there's so much LESS PASSION...AND CREATIVITY that we just don't understand why you WOULDN'T want to watch your favorite player get the jellyfinger.

Um, I guess. And what is the dream Beck-a-ham inspires in Jess? TO PLAY FOR THE SAN JOSE CYBERRAYS OF THE WOMEN'S UNITED SOCCER ALLIANCE!—OR WHATEVER THE HELL "WUSA" STANDS FOR!

That's right, Clones, Jess' big dream is to play in WUSA. Um, this is where the movie loses me, Clones. I mean, WUSA?

Freaking WUSA? Are you kidding me?

Is Jess aware that WUSA....doesn't actually have any fans? I mean, who has actually been to a WUSA game?

I know who has been to a WUSA game: Those twelve people that mobbed Manchester United at the Portland airport. Did you hear about this, Clones? Apparently the biggest soccer team in the world...the New York Yankees, Los Angelos Lakers, and Detroit Red Wings all in one ..landed in Portland for a game with the Washington Generals...or whoever. And security for MAN U. had to hustle these guys by ALL TWELVE FANS WHO SHOWED UP! Apparently....there were more security guards than there were fans.

I mean, how did that go, Clones? "Go! Go! Go! Get these guys away from this mob....of TWELVE FANS! These guys might be mobbed by THESE TWELVES SOCCER FANS! No time for autographs! Not with THESE TWELVES FANS MOBBING THE AIRPORT! They've got lattes! They've got lattes!"

I really can't blame security for being a little cautious around Soccer Fan, though. I don't know if it's all the PASSION...AND CREATIVITY that causes Soccer Fan to riot. Hey, all I know is that WHEN THEY ROLL OUT THE ROUND BALL, PEOPLE DIE.

I don't know what it is, Clones, but I do know that.

C'mon, Jess! Surely you've got bigger dreams than....WUSA. I mean, don't you want to strip down after scoring a winning goal in the World Cup? Thanks a lot, Chastaham, for that. That's just what we needed, Chastaham, a bunch of soccer players stripping down after they score. Now they all do it—especially the men, like Cobi Wynalda and Alexi Meola. I guess there's so much PASSION...AND CREATIVITY involved in scoring a soccer goal that you now must go porn star after EVERY GOAL! And frankly, I don't blame them, considering that A GOAL HAPPENS ONCE EVERY TWO OR THREE GAMES. I'd be excited, too, if a great season means SCORING TWO OR THREE GOALS!

But I guess that's the difference between women's soccer and girls' soccer: The Women strip down to their sports bras; The Girls—according to Bend It Like Beckham—take a picture of themselves. Right there on the field.

How does that work, Chastahams? Who's got a camera with them WHILE THEY'RE PLAYING? And you take time out of the game to pose for a picture before you get back on defense? What the hell is that? Is that just more...CREATIVITY that I just don't understand.

Listen, ladies, if you want to get paid to run around naked on the field of sport, why don't you just fly out to Vegas and get in on the Bambi action. You've heard of this, right Clones? You pay 10 Gr!, and you get to...um, hunt....meth-ed up strippers running around naked. And guys have come from, and I quote, "as far away as Germany" to blast Bambis.

How did that conversation go? "Hey Franz, you wanna shoot naked strippers with paintballs?" "Sure, Wilhelm, but I didn't think the German government would allow that?" "Franz, we can go to America and shoot naked strippers with paintballs. I've got five thousand dollars; you've got five thousand dollars....LET'S GO SHOOT PAINTBALLS AT STRIPPERS!" "You're on, Wilhelm. God bless America."

Hey Jess, if the whole soccer thing doesn't work out, or even if it does, you can always get in on the Bambi action out in Vegas. It pays a thousand dollars a round. Two thousand if you don't get shot...with a paintball. While you're naked.

I know that's worth more than a WUSA contract, and there's got to be MORE SPECTATORS!

And don't email me, or call me, asking for the number for the paintball place where you pay 10 GR! to shoot naked strippers running around in the woods. I don't have it, Clones.

And Clones, save your Kobe Bryant emails, ok? I don't want to hear your "'Little girls in sports bras? I'm in.' Sincerely, Kobe'" emails. Save your "'I admire the PASSION...AND CREATIVITY of little girls running around in sports bras.' Sincerely, Kobe" blasts. Clones, seriously, I don't want to read your "'Did Bend It Like Beckham win a Teen Choice Award? I'm there!' Sincerely, Kobe" takes.

Clones, I don't want to hear them. So stop sending them. I'm NOT going to read them.

That's today's take, Clones. J-Stew is the show contributor. Brian Albers is the show's producer. I'd like to thank shimes and the filmsnobs for passing me a vine. Look for me on "Rome Is Burning" Tuesday nights on ESPN, and I am IN! for Shaolin Soccer coming up in August. Shimes sent me the trailer for this one.

Have you seen this stuff? I mean, I HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STUFF? These Asian teenagers kick the soccer ball....and it CATCHES ON FIRE! They tornado kick the ball, and it knocks Dude's head off! Now that's PASSION...AND CREATIVITY!

I....am.....out.

Shimes' Report:

Rack'em! Another strong take by the King of Smack, Jim Rome. I do want to mention a couple other things about Beckham. It gives us nothing different than any other WHACKY! "Hey, my family is from a traditionl culture, but I want to go to the West" movie. Sure, it's inspiring...I guess, but the bottom line is that Bend It Like Beckham is a far lesser movie than Billy Elliot. Billy Elliot has all of this social context about the coal miners strike and issues dealing directly with masculinity and gender roles. Billy Elliot has depth; Bend It Like Beckham is just superficial, overcoming-the-odds stuff masked as a cultural drama. Compare Billy Elliot's (directed, I might add, by The Hours' Stephen Daldry) labor struggle (the eggs thrown against the bus, the father's anger and violence, the end scene where the men descend into the mines) to the only significant social statement (other than the usual "My parents don't understand me" stuff) in Bend It Like Beckham: Jess: "She called me a Paki. But I guess that's something you wouldn't understand." Joe: "Jess, I'm Irish." Fine, but that's all that's done with it. Billy Elliot takes the same inspirational kids-inspired-by-sports angle and creates a complex portrait of a deeply divisive period of British history; Bend It Like Beckham is My Big Fat Greek Wedding on a soccer field. Yes, even the big climax involves the little girl having to go to a wedding. And no, this isn't because I hate girls sports. I don't; in fact, I coach girls sports. And boys sports. And a mediocre movie is still a mediocre movie even if it involves girls sports rather than boys sports.

The Pitch:
 
1 Billy Elliot
Plus
 
1 Brandy Chastain
Equals
   
2 Bend It Like Beckham
See It For:

Parminder prays for Posh Spice to have a heart attack and die.