Bend It Like Beckham

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating: Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content 
Starring: Parminder Nagra, Kierra Knightly,Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Shaheen Khan, Anaupam Kehr 
Directed By:Gurinder Chadha 

Final Grade: 

Growing up I can always remember the springtime. Spring was that one time of year that the grass became green, the trees started budding, the birds began singing, and everything had its new beginnings. One of those new beginnings was the reintroduction of soccer into my High School’s physical education curriculum. Very few of us understood the game of soccer, and it always turned into a bunch of kids kicking a ball back and forth, and leaving the “soccer season” knowing not much more than what we did when we started. Since soccer wasn’t the thing to play in a Northeastern Iowa town, and good old American Football ruled as king of High School Athletics, my understanding and I guess you could say appreciation for soccer never really developed. So when everyone started talking about this new flick “Bend it Like Beckham” I had no idea what he or she were talking about.

Well after a little investigation, I learned some very valuable things that helped me if nothing else; understand the title of the film. David Beckham is known as one of England’s finest Soccer players. And the phrase Bend means nothing more than to simply kick the ball. Therefore Bend it Like Beckham, means nothing more than Kick the soccer ball like the famous English guy does. Now that or short lesson in soccer terminology is over, let’s get on with the review.

Jess is a girl growing up in England. Both she and her parents originate from India and so their cultural beliefs are not quite the same as the typical English family. A lot of changes are going on in Jess’s life. Her sister is engaged and will soon be married (in what kind of reminds me of a “Big Fat India Wedding (bad pun intended)) and her family is trying hard to prepare for the special occasion. But Jess has a second love, which is for soccer, a sport that she is good at, but her parents do not approve of. But when a young English girl, Jules, convinces Jess to try out for an all girls soccer team, Jess begins to sneak out to play soccer. But when her family discovers her secret, Jess must decide between a love of the game or her family and her newfound friends and her culture.

This flick is quickly becoming the Sleeper hit of the summer. Starting out in England the film has already caught on overseas and is now slowly but steadily gaining a following here in the United States, following in the footsteps of last years sleeper hit, My Big Fat Over hyped (ummm..errr I mean Greek) Wedding. Even the plots of the two films have a somewhat similar feeling to it. Bend it Like Beckham, just like my Big fat Greek Wedding, both have that wholesome family, feel good appeal to them that is fed to you by the giant spoonfuls on a big silver platter.

But don’t let the cheese of this flick frighten you away, it’s feel good approach works extremely well, and it utilizes everything it has to it’s highest potential. The cast is wonderful, especially the supporting role by Jess’s soccer mate Jules, who is played by Kierra Knightly. Knightly is a new Hollywood heroine, who you should be expecting to see plenty more of in the next few years. Her career is taking off with a bang, first with Beckham and later on this summer with Pirates of The Caribbean. Our main character, Jess, played by Parminder Nagra, is also wonderful, and although it is not a flawless performance, it is still one to be recognized as quite pleasing to the eye. But the best parts of the cast are Jess’s parents, played by Anaupam Kehr, and Shaheen Khan. Their performances are heartfelt, and fun, and they play out the roles of traditional, yet supportive parents to near perfection.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no deep meaning to this flick, but it knows that right from the start. It is a lighthearted flick that has all the components of a feel good flick. It has the follow your dreams, do what you love theme, as well as a theme about friendship and falling in love. The nice thing about Bend it Like Beckham is a flick that does all this in a way that an audience of all genders and ages can at least appreciate. Everyone knows the outcome, but that’s part of the fun. What makes this flick great is not because of it’s raging plot twists, but instead it’s well written story, wonderful cast and strong direction.

In the end, Bend It Like Beckham isn’t trying to be the next academy award winner. It isn’t trying to make a profound statement about life as we know it, and it isn’t trying to be the worlds greatest film. However, it succeeds because the characters are loveable, and the plot is simple and coherent enough that it is believable. And sometimes in the world of film that is all you really need. Bend it Like Beckham is worth the cash. It’s the feel good sleeper hit of the summer that really does deserve to be recognized. Surrounded by a bunch of big budgeted summer blockbusters, a smaller film Like Bend it Like Beckham may look as though it doesn’t stand much of a chance, but if word of this film spreads as quickly as the sport of soccer did in America over the last few years, then I think it just may have a chance to be England’s next big box office winner… 

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