Judge Lacey Worrell expects the follow-up to this disc will be entitled No, Seriously—Bend It Like Beckham, Or Else.
Now you can really bend it like Beckham!
Before you can truly understand and appreciate this DVD, certain facts must be spelled out. First of all, in just about every country in the world besides the United States, soccer is not just a popular pastime, it's huge. Its fans border on the fanatical. Their passion is so fervent that at times it spills over into, well, murder; whether it's their own goalie who gave up one too many goals or fans who get a little too rowdy and end up trampling each other to death. In England, soccer is referred to as "football," and in order to minimize confusion, the popular United States sport of the same name is referred to as "American football." Sure, the Super Bowl is shown across the pond, but soccer/football is far more popular. There are even rumors of expectant parents moving to within the limits of Manchester, U.K. so that their sons can be born there, a requirement to play for the beloved Manchester United team. [Ed. Note: Maybe that was the case a loooooong time ago, but not anymore. Please—no emails, Mancunians. Everyone knows Man U buys whomever they want, nationality be damned…]
David Beckham is known all at once as a soccer god, a drop-dead gorgeous guy, a flamboyant dresser, and Mr. Posh Spice. His life is as dramatic off the field as on: The daily London tabloids take particular delight in reporting the ups and downs of his marriage to wife Victoria, as well as speculating on foiled kidnapping attempts on Beckham's young children. Despite a move from Manchester United to Real Madrid several years ago, Beckham's celebrity status in England is much like that of Tom Cruise's or Brad Pitt's in the United States. His every move, both on and off the field, is scrutinized and interpreted, which makes the public only hunger for more. It is difficult to imagine a sports figure in the United States whose life is under such a microscope; even the giants like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods manage to keep their private lives relatively private.
When I first heard of Really Bend It Like Beckham, I was hoping against hope that it was a sequel to Gurinder Chadha's absolutely delightful 2003 film, about an talented young woman of Indian heritage who goes against her parents' wishes and pursues her dreams of playing soccer. There are few movies I feel sheer joy while watching, and Bend It Like Beckham is one of them. Really Bend It Like Beckham is, however, a technical, skill-based, 2-disc set that attempts to teach kids the finer points of soccer. And let me make it clear that, other than being aware of that guy who screams "Goal! Goal! Goooooooooal!" on Spanish-language television during soccer matches, and the occasional pondering of why male soccer players hold their nether regions when teaming up to block a free kick, I know next to nothing about soccer.
Facts of the Case
Filmed in Madrid, Spain and featuring Beckham with a group of elementary school-aged girls and boys, this 2-disc set covers all the basic elements of soccer, with an emphasis on ball control techniques, taught by Beckham himself. Other skills covered include passing, using the inside of the foot, and free kicks. The camera frequently rewinds and repeats particularly crucial skills, as the kicks and turns are fairly quick.
In between the individual skills, viewers are treated to casual conversations between Beckham and his prodigies, on everything from having his children's names inscribed on his "boots" (shoes for us Yanks) to his recently acquired taste for salad before big games with his current team, Real Madrid.
Beckham is surprisingly soft-spoken, and while his dominance on the soccer field was established a long time ago, what is so refreshing about this DVD is the way he interacts with the children he is teaching. He talks to them, not at them, in a friendly, non-condescending way. The children are obviously in awe of him, but he is relaxed and easy-going, and he takes soccer down to the level of sheer fun, rather than work or competition. Come on, you crazed soccer moms and dads out there: If David Beckham can avoid terrorizing kids and screaming at them because they mess up a play, so can you.
The soccer techniques Beckham addresses are obviously the focus, but the tidbits he offers about his own likes and dislikes, as well as his remarkably humble nature when talking to the children, are what make this DVD go far beyond what one would normally expect. The children are captivated, and the at-home audience will be as well.
The camera work, especially on the first disc, is just spectacular, and goes far beyond what one would expect an instructional disc. Everything, from the lighting, to the setting, to the camera techniques (such as the unique angles, slow motion, fast-forward, and rewind), is top-notch. The fact that there are complete Spanish and French language versions included is also a nice touch.
Fans will also love the included bonus disc, which features highlights of some of David's pivotal games. This disc rounds out the experience and makes this collection truly worth fans' money, as it is an opportunity to view the same skills Beckham has just taught the children employed in world-class soccer matches.
It's difficult to refer to a sports-related release without the inevitable
puns, so I won't even restrain myself. Really Bend It Like Beckham will
really "score" with its intended audience, and after watching these
DVDs, all the soccer moms out there may even be entertaining their own notions
Judge Worrell orders David Beckham into her private chambers…now! As for the soccer fans in the audience, go get this DVD. Case dismissed.
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