Filmmaker Taika Waititi has received a lot of flack after delivering comedic takes on MCU’s Thor (Ragnarok, Love and Thunder). I honestly don’t understand it. I found both movies highly entertaining and loads of fun. Well, Waititi is back with a non-MCU film based on an inspirational sports story involving The American Samoa soccer team. While the story has a certain level of predictability, Taika’s sense of humor is ever-present and delivers an irresistibly charming and poignant movie.
Known as the worst soccer team in the world, the American Samoa National Team has grown tired of being a laughing stock in sports. Enter Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), a fierce soccer coach whose emotional fits of anger have blocked him from most work. Willing to give Rongen one more chance, the league officials offer him the coaching job of the American Samoan team. Desperate for the work, Rongen reluctantly accepts, but he has his work cut out for him.
Based on the documentary of the same name, Taika Waititi’s version of Next Goal Wins has a lot of heart mixed with plenty of Waititi’s brand of humor. For those who loathe the filmmaker’s comedic style, this is not your movie. As for me, I heartily laughed often and was won over by the story’s winning spirit. Waititi sheds much light on the vibrant and beautiful culture of the American Samoans while offering some insight into the team’s more exciting and compelling members.
Though the movie features fine performances by recognizable actors such as Fassbender, Will Arnett, Elisabeth Moss, and Kaitlyn Dever, the film’s real stars are the indigenous actors who make up the soccer team and their surrounding community. These include Oscar Kightley, transgender actor Kaimana, David Fane, and Waititi regular Rachel House.
Next Goal Wins is a very lovable movie I recommend for PG-13 audiences. While I enjoyed Taika’s MCU entries, the filmmaker is at his best when delivering a film near and dear to his heart. People who loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople should also like his latest. These two movies pair very well together.