LOS ANGELES -- You know you have a fondness -- some might say sickness -- for the beautiful game when it is possible to find redeeming moments in almost every soccer movie to hit the market.
Mike Ditka, really, needed a bigger role in "Kicking and Screaming," didn't he? The man clearly needed room to expand his craft.
Forget master thespian Robert Duvall in "The Godfather," "Tender Mercies" or "Colors." When will Duvall make the sequel to "A Shot at Glory," with Ally McCoist? Or is McCoist just too busy to take phone calls from Duvall and Michael Keaton?
(Yes, there is a line on the pitch, of course, and it was, thankfully, drawn at "Soccer Dog: The Movie." That DVD has never been purchased, and if it is ever discovered in my house, a certain 9-year-old will have to take the fall.)
This might suggest that soccer movie standards here are not as high as expectations for other movies.
There is something about so many of the soccer flicks of the past, the ability to hit the right note so often. The sport lends itself to drama on and off the pitch, using the global appeal of the game combined with real-life drama.
The latest one, coming to theaters early next month, is ripped straight from the headlines. An affable young man from football country, Green Bay Packers land, chases his dream of playing in the Premier League, leaving home with about $1,800 in his pocket.
Mom says that she thought her son was "crazy." Dad, in his reassuring Wisconsin accent, says the same thing, but not quite as bluntly.
The son: "I'm not the type of person who is going to do anything halfway."
For a spell, it turns into a buddy movie. The American kid and his British sidekick and friend are so underfunded, they end up renting bicycles in Belgium to make their trips to try to audition for lower-division teams.
This is about Jay DeMerit, who went from a steady diet of eating beans and toast and living in the friend's house in England to eventually reaching the promised land, the Premier League, and playing in the World Cup for the United States.
And this fascinating documentary, viewed by the Los Angeles Times, is called "Rise & Shine," the story of DeMerit's inexplicable journey from pub leagues in England to semipro Southall FC to Northwood to, finally, Watford. It is scheduled to be shown next month at theaters across the nation, and there is strong Southern California representation among the locations.
The movie opens with this quote:
"The poorest of all men is not one without a cent, it is one without a dream." -- Unknown.
Apparently, getting the film made was a story in itself, and one major holdup, according to the Guardian newspaper, was raising more money to secure the licensing of game footage.
That was worth the wait.
One of the best, most dramatic clips was DeMerit scoring a massive goal for Watford, on a header, seemingly materializing out of nowhere.
Just like his soccer career.