There are an estimated one billion people in the world who are homeless, but the focus of the ESPN-commissioned and MTV-deep Kicking It is on those who play football (soccer to us Yankees). As in the recent Planet B-Boy, the impoverished conditions of the film’s subjects matter significantly less than the rush of competition, but at least Planet B-Boy was a thrill to watch. Of the 48 nations gearing up to compete at the Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, director Susan Koch chooses to focus on Afghanistan, Kenya, Spain, Russia, Ireland and her native America, breezing through a few individual profiles and barely acknowledging the unique social agents responsible for homelessness in each of these countries, though on-screen text reveals that a heroin craze is crippling Ireland’s youth and homelessness is a point of non-discussion in Russia. Colin Farrell, apparently standing in for Bono (no, wait, there he is on the soundtrack), emerges from an underground passage to speak about the edifying effects of football, and Homeless World Cup founder Mel Young later declaims that the sport “can be used to tackle some of the more difficult issues in society,” but Koch can’t be bothered to provide examples of how the thrill of competition affects the lives of homeless people beyond filling their days, and as such Kicking It gives the impression of being insufficiently researched. Bizarrely miscalculated and hoping for some geyser-like revelation of truth, the film spotlights a meet-cute between an Afghan player and a girl from Paraguay, then buses a black homeless man from the States to a South African slum—scenes that hinge on the frustrations of language barriers but never lead to any sense of cross-cultural understanding. That these scenarios also have next to nothing to do with the actual state of homelessness is at least in keeping with the overall shortsightedness of the film, which treats the effects of the winning team’s victory in their native country as a mere afterthought.
- Liberation Entertainment
- 98 min
- Susan Koch
- Colin Farrell
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