'Game' is less than rousing

Category: The Game of Their Lives Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 22, 2005 | Publication: Los Angeles Times | Author: Kevin Crust
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Thirty years prior to the U.S. Olympic hockey team's 1980 gold medal triumph in Lake Placid, N.Y. (dramatized last year in the film "Miracle"), an equally unlikely upset occurred when a hastily assembled American squad beat international soccer powerhouse England, 1-0, in the first round of the World Cup.

"The Game of Their Lives" -- written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh, the team that brought you the crowd-pleasing "Hoosiers" and "Rudy" -- follows that 1950 World Cup team from tryouts held only weeks before they departed through to the climactic tournament in Brazil.

Opposites clash as a group of scrappy players from an Italian section of St. Louis known as the Hill attempts to mesh its loosely improvisational style with the more disciplined approach employed by the East Coast players who make up the rest of the team in this oddly flat film.

Despite strong performances by Gerard Butler and Wes Bentley as the leaders of the two factions and crisply directed soccer action, the movie lacks a powerful central presence to carry the drama. Like a corner kick that doesn't quite bend, "Game" is a faithful, straightforward docudrama that fails to become something more rewarding.

"The Game of Their Lives," PG for some mild language and thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. In general release.

Kevin Crust