Bend It Like Beckham

"Good"

Bend It Like Beckham Review


Liberated, Westernized daughters versus their traditional, ethnic mothers -- it's the trendiest genre in crowd-pleasing independent cinema. Pick an ethnic minority, embrace its clichés and use them for punchlines, then pit your female heroine (attractive, not gorgeous, with a realistic body type) in a position where she's torn between family and future.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" milked the formula for $250 million. "Real Women Have Curves" was a modest hit, combining body-image themes with a story about a second-generation Los Angeles Latina who wanted to go to college instead of working in her sister's dress factory -- much to the chagrin of her old-fashioned mother.

Now comes the English import "Bend It Like Beckham," in which the soccer-fanatic daughter of Sikh immigrants pursues her sporty dreams behind the backs of her disapproving parents and -- to quote from the stock-language press kit -- "has to choose between tradition and following her heart."

Yet despite their feel-good predictability -- and probably because of their filmmakers' adoration of and appreciation for the cultures they portray -- these perfunctory pictures have a tendency to be totally entertaining, even if they are formulaic.

"Bend It" is an energetic romp in which talented teenage footballer heroine Jess Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra) -- who idolizes Manchester United star David Beckham -- is recruited for an amateur female soccer league and soon has aroused the interest of scouts from America's pro women's soccer league.

Between the time Jess starts sneaking out to practice (dressing in street clothes but hiding her gym bag in the bushes in front of her parents' house) and the time The Big Game coincides with her sister's wedding (oh, what will she do?) there are many trifling but engaging plot developments.

Conservative, sari-wearing, melodramatic Mom bellows "You shouldn't be running around on a field with all these men, baring your legs!" Quiet, more sympathetic, turban-wearing Dad slowly comes around to aiding and abetting after seeing Jess play. Misunderstandings lead to family crises when the judgmental, old-country parents of Jess's future brother-in-law call off the wedding over what they perceive as Jess's inappropriate behavior.

Meanwhile, Jess's best friend (blonde, slender, adorable but credibly sporty Keira Knightley) has problems of her own -- namely a histrionic mother (Juliette Stevenson in a hilarious, cleavage-conscious, suburban-trash performance) who thinks soccer is turning her beautiful daughter into a lesbian. "Honey," Stevenson lectures, "all that I'm saying is, there's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella!"

While they bond over the universal ailment of embarrassing mothers, the girls also have a catty falling out over -- what else? -- their mutual crushes on their sexy young coach with bedroom eyes and pouty lips (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS).

The attraction between Rhys-Meyers and Nagra is contrived and unconvincing, and the film has other problems too -- most notably, the zippy soccer game scenes are all fancy-footwork and rock-music montage sequences which inadvertently trumpet the implication that these actresses can't really play.

But Nagra and Knightly are irresistibly charming, and writer-director Gurinder Chadha ("What's Cooking?") knows how to rally an audience behind them with endearing comedy and an earnest message of feminine empowerment.



Bend It Like Beckham

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st August 2003

Box Office USA: $32.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $76.6M

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Kintop Pictures, Filmförderung Hamburg, UK Film Council

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 128 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jesminder 'Jess' Kaur Bhamra, as Juliette 'Jules' Paxton, as Joe, as Mr. Bhamra, Shaheen Khan as Mrs. Bhamra, as Alan Paxton, as Paula Paxton, as Tony, as Pinky Bhamra, as Meena, as Monica, Ace Bhatti as Nairobi Grandson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.