HBO // 2007 // 77 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // December 23rd, 2007
Dare to believe. Dare to reach. Dare to inspire.
While Dare to Dream has been airing on HBO for a year or so now, its release in 2007 appears to have been timed with the United States Women's Team's appearance in the 2007 Women's World Cup. The noteworthy event for the team in that final, despite their third place showing, was the friction between young goalkeeper Hope Solo and her coach Greg Ryan, and Ryan's decision to replace Solo with Brianna Scurry. Solo's frustrations seemed to spill over to Scurry's abilities, which has caused a lot of bad press for Solo and much posterior covering, while Ryan has since been dismissed from the team.
Much of the backlash at Solo seemed to be the undeserved tongue lashing given to Scurry, a longtime member of the National Team who was the keeper on the teams which featured accomplished players like Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett and Mia Hamm, who many consider to be one of the best goalscorers in the history of the game, regardless of gender. Their rise to notoriety is the focus of the HBO produced, Liev Schreiber narrated piece Dare to Dream, which chronicles the rise to prominence of the women's National Soccer Team program.
Many people know the U.S. Women's team as the winners of the 1999 Women's World Cup, which was held in America to huge audiences. And the piece itself does spend a bit of time on the tournament, but the overall focus is on the impact of those players mentioned, along with Carla Overbeck, another key contributor to the team. The young days of most of those players are recalled, along with their emergence to the National team in 1991. The group, lovingly called the "91ers," recall the days when they would play on small soccer fields when the attendance would only be in the hundreds. Even as the team would embark on World Cups prior to 1999, the attendance for games was fairly low, though the players cohesion would improve and, long before the '99 Cup, were known as a soccer powerhouse.
While the large crowds in '99 are a bragging point, the underlying theme of what the players discuss is their selling of the game. They would hold frequent clinics and stay for hours after to sign autographs or to talk with girls who were being more and more inspired by the achievements of Hamm, Foudy, etc. This had been going on for years at this point, so while the '99 World Cup was a remarkable achievement in terms of selling the game, in terms of the documentary, it comes about an hour into it, to give you an idea of the hard work off the field the ladies put in, and shows you just how much it was rewarded.
Hot on the heels of that success, the WUSA was inaugurated shortly thereafter, led by Foudy and a host of others. Unfortunately though, the soccer league was unable to sustain corporate interest and activities were soon suspended though it appears as of this date that the league will be reinstated in the next 18 months. And yes, the league's suspension is talked about here, as a lot of other things are because with the honey, there's going to be the occasional stinger or two, and the group's physical decline is shown from time to time, though the overall concept of the film incorporates highlight and newsreel footage with candid film of the group's final game together in 2004. But the concept works, it shows you the work and time they've put in, the rewards they've reaped, and it helps you understand the impact that they've had on women's professional sports, and perhaps rightfully suggesting that they're trailblazers.
The piece is quite effective, as most of the HBO sports documentaries are, though there are times where it tries to be a little bit too manipulative. When the U.S. team loses, the same semi-sad music seems to play on more than one occasion, and it almost tries to set up some meteoric rebirth from the ashes so the girls can play and win one last time, so I think in between that, and the fact that the piece is about ten to fifteen minutes too long, brings the enjoyment level down a little. Overall though, the decision to showcase the Women's program in terms of what it's done since 1991, combined with a load of locker room and "on the bus" footage shot by the players, make this a refreshingly candid and enjoyable documentary, and even if you already know a lot about the players and the team, the additional perspective certainly keeps you hooked in. This is another solid release by HBO.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site
* Official U.S. Soccer Website