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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.85%
Worth A Look44.23%
Average: 4.81%
Pretty Bad: 8.65%
Total Crap: 13.46%

3 reviews, 86 user ratings

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Bend It Like Beckham
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by Chris Parry

"You wanna play soccer? So go play soccer and quit your bloody complaining."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: This film has played a lot of places without managing to get a release in North America, and if you ask me that’s not a particularly bad thing. Not that this flick about female empowerment on the soccer pitch is particularly terrible – it’s far from that – but it has a distinct hint of after-school special about some of the writing and just because it deals with the trials and tribulations of clashing cultures doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an important film. When it comes right down to it, this tale of an Indian girl who loves playing soccer but has less-than-agreeable parents is basically Blue Crush on a football pitch.

Jess (Parminder Nagra) digs two things in life – soccer is one. Soccer star David Beckham is the other. Of course, this conflicts with the traditional values of her parents, who only care about her education, that she’s always seen as ladylike and that she can cook a ‘full Indian dinner’ (meat and vegetarian, don’t you know). When she’s spotted by Julie (Keira Knightley) while playing in the park, she’s invited to try out for a women’s league side. Unbeknownst to her parents, Jess sneaks off to try out, gets a spot and proceeds to make up one lie after another to get time on the pitch.

Of course, the folks bust her again and again and again, but no matter what happens, someone always eventually agrees to help Jess sneak off to training. And that’s where this flick goes astray. It tries to be nice above all else, meaning that even at it’s most harsh, this story never gets above the level of annoying. There’s no danger to anyone, Jess seems able to do anything she wants and all that will happen is her mother will flip out a bit. Heck, she even begins a romance with her coach (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and barely an eyebrow is raised.

If you’re going to be in for a penny, get in for a pound; that’s the advice I have for director Gurinder Chadha. Not that she particularly needs my advice, the film went into profit a long time ago, but it could have been so much more. The performances are a mixed bag – Nagra is great and worth watching out for in future films, and Knightley has more acting talent than any six-foot tall 98lb woman I’ve ever seen on screen. Then again, she’s the only six foot tall… bah, do I even need to finish the joke?

The flick’s okay. You can take your grandmother and your kid sister, but Diet Vanilla Coke is more likely to change people’s lives than Bend It Like Beckham.

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originally posted: 01/18/03 21:03:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/27/13 Anon this movie is a complete disappoimtment to the real indian culture. 1 stars
12/21/11 RLan A good film about family obligation with soccer as a backdrop. 4 stars
1/18/09 abi i love this movie is the best and my favorite 5 stars
8/12/07 mim good movie 4 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK y do Americans call it soccer? N y do we call it football? it's still a shit sport.... 1 stars
1/17/07 David Pollastrini all the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
11/06/06 juliiiiiiiii bad film, i hate it so much 1 stars
10/30/06 horndog shit movie i would rather pull my dick then watch this shit it is boring 1 stars
9/25/06 Clara Not that good 1 stars
4/18/06 lynn Johnathon-Rhys Meyers is the ONLY reason to watch this movie!! 4 stars
1/22/06 sweetgrrl1972 One of those rare movies people of all ages can enjoy. All time fave. 5 stars
12/05/05 jojo i think it's the 14th 2nd-generation immigrant kid movie i've seen. there all the same. 3 stars
9/13/05 bbbr pretty good and homourous 4 stars
9/02/05 larry a great, heartwarming movie. 5 stars
8/12/05 Kelly inspirational 4 stars
7/27/05 joe blogs total crap 1 stars
3/04/05 Jess Adorable film! It's rather inspiring, but that's prolly just the music. Cute, at-home film. 4 stars
12/27/04 mjoc The filmakers were "Bent On Boredom". What crap! 1 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams I loved the movie. Great music, great story. 5 stars
9/14/04 Nameless Commentless 5 stars
8/10/04 lollies it was a great movie and wat fuker can't see that.da 4 stars
8/02/04 psychotic black dwarf Shocking how Beckham & WUSA went to shit contemporaneous w/ this entertaining movie. 4 stars
6/20/04 Daveman It's melodramatic? Tell me something I don't know, I still enjoyed it a great deal. 4 stars
5/05/04 iusgfpiughew ewo]ghr 4 stars
4/08/04 el yo sharta Awesome movie! joe is sexy! touching yet energetic. worth a second and even third look 5 stars
3/22/04 Sévi_c A wonderful movie which shows different cultures in a really funny way! 4 stars
3/22/04 lounge_c A lovely movie, quite in touch with reality. Acceptable and worth a sencond look :o) 4 stars
3/22/04 Irene_c It's a great movie with more sence than just jokes. 4 stars
3/22/04 Sarah It`s ä great movie! 4 stars
3/22/04 w3c very entertaining. hiarious in parts 5 stars
3/21/04 loupe_c I liked the movie.They show in a very good way how it can be in different cultures. 4 stars
3/21/04 Cin'z_c Sweet movie with lots of deeper sence + a try to change one's point of view.*excelleeent* 4 stars
3/21/04 fantac A great movie with great actors and a background which is serious but also funny made! 5 stars
3/19/04 denise_c The best movie for a tedious evening at home! It is gorgeous entertainment! I'm lovin' it. 4 stars
3/16/04 Masta It is a pretty bad movie. It's just another teenager movie! Everything was so predicable!!! 2 stars
3/16/04 Waly C This film is total crap, didn't like it at all 1 stars
3/07/04 reptilesni What? No blood, sex or car chases? What kind of movie is this? (I loved it!) 5 stars
2/10/04 quality not looks low level entertainment, agree with Parry 2 stars
1/28/04 y2mckay I only saw it for the two hot chicks. Mistaken identity lesbian subplot, also amusing. 3 stars
12/01/03 HorrorScribbler My Big Fat Indian Soccer Team 4 stars
11/21/03 Cyco_Beaver I good film oulining indian life in the UK, pretty funny at times 5 stars
10/21/03 Taylor Fladgate like the film "East is East", a hilarious look at English life from a different perspective 5 stars
10/10/03 Robyn Jamil-Walid Starts off irritating and cliched, but eventually gets good. Worth sticking with. 4 stars
8/14/03 Arnie Wasserman Predictable, but worth a look . 4 stars
8/13/03 Nancy295 I enjoyed the music! 4 stars
8/13/03 brentley great movie. really enjoyed it. 4 stars
8/12/03 shelley stults feisty fun...gotta see 5 stars
8/11/03 helen best brit film for years 5 stars
8/05/03 Mike Parminger Nagra is the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Long may she reign 5 stars
7/29/03 tariq from sarosh acadmy swat 3 stars
7/21/03 Udoka It's kind of like a Disney movie, only Pg-13. A few funny parts. It's still alright. 4 stars
7/07/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. If this was about a white girl & soccer, it wouldn't be worth a second glance. But it isn't 4 stars
7/06/03 Paul S. This film is Hot! Hot! Hot! It kicks BALLS .... 5 stars
6/27/03 George Pretty Good 4 stars
6/10/03 Joe Fiffick Great Film! Well worth the time and money to see. 5 stars
6/05/03 rae This movie is superb! Chris it's just that; a MOVIE, get a life! 5 stars
5/28/03 paul fun, simple movie that will leave you going home happy 5 stars
5/26/03 Parker Utter Thorougly Brilliant!!! 5 stars
5/14/03 I got my $7 back, but I'll never get my hour back. 1 stars
5/05/03 Mike Hughes Very worthwhile picture. I would see it again. 4 stars
5/01/03 Jessy Gill i love this movie i never seen it yet because where i live in windsor they never told us 5 stars
5/01/03 Ayla pretty decent if not terribly original or surprising 4 stars
4/26/03 Miss Black A fun film for anyone who wants to take a break from over budget films. 5 stars
4/24/03 GWB amazing and funny 5 stars
4/22/03 mr. Pink Charming. Sweet with a little vinegar to make it go down easy. 4 stars
4/20/03 Suzz fun & entertaining/better than the Fat Greek thingy 4 stars
4/15/03 reptilesni This movie rocked! The audience clapped at the end! How often does that happen? 5 stars
4/07/03 Jon Cliché-ridden nonsense. Avoid at all costs... 1 stars
4/02/03 Becky Smith A flick u can c with your mate,bf,mum or even grannma -I loved it! 5 stars
3/18/03 fdbcbcvb Gay ass movie. Keira Knightley's acting sucks, but I'd still fuck her. 5 stars
3/06/03 SS Captures the mood & mixing of cultures in modern England brilliantly. Delightfully funny. 5 stars
3/03/03 David Fluff, and not very good fluff at that. 2 stars
3/03/03 PM-LA Funny, smart, if this doesn't move you, there's something wrong 5 stars
2/26/03 dhe this film is it. It's a feel good movie, try not to judge it so much! 5 stars
2/24/03 Mimi Too much ideas going on the director's head, but did not express it in a good way. 1 stars
2/18/03 Gabrielle I love this film! Keira Knightley(jules) was awful, though! 4 stars
2/13/03 Mopsa I'm a girl and I like soccer, but I found it a bit boring 3 stars
1/28/03 P.Rodriguez Keira Knightley is soo hot!!!! 5 stars
1/27/03 Raza it's a good film 4 stars
1/22/03 Sharkster I liked it! There are worse ways to spend 2 hrs. 4 stars
1/20/03 chris howe yanks don't understand soccer - feel good flick 4 stars
1/20/03 james really nice 'feel' good movie 4 stars
1/20/03 matt fresh yeah I hated it. Jess and the coach dont have much chemistry in my eyes, hate that ending. 1 stars
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