Contemporary World Cinema | 2018 | 120 minutes
Stranger Says: After torpedoing both his career and his driving record in one night, a hotshot assistant basketball coach is forced to take charge of a ragtag team of disabled players. That faint rumbling sound in the background is the Hollywood remake engine powering up. To call this feel-good movie formulaic may actually be disrespectful to most formulas, honestly. Danged if it doesn’t still somehow work, though, courtesy of a breezily assured pace, actors who wisely underplay whenever possible, and an ending that’s just ridiculously satisfying, even when you can see it coming from three screens over.
SIFF Says:For assistant pro basketball coach Marco (Javier Gutiérrez, THE OLIVE TREE), life is a game that’s played hard and played to win at any cost. With a hair-trigger temper and an arrogance that has estranged him from his beautiful wife Sonia (Athenea Mata), Marco’s big mouth quickly gets him into a courtside brawl that costs him his job, followed by a boozy night of self-pity and the inevitable DUI. But even with everything falling apart around him, he’s thrown an unexpected lifeline: to coach Los Amigos, a team of intellectually disabled basketball players including neurotic meter reader Marin (Jesus Vidal), smelly hydrophobe Juanma (Jose de Luna), mama’s-boy metalhead Jesus (Jesus Lago) and ball-busting Collantes (Gloria Ramos). Working out of a gym that’s seen better days, Marcos soon realizes that his perpetually underfunded “not normal” team just might have what it takes to make it to the national championships—and perhaps even an overdue reckoning with his own disability—in this hilarious and heartfelt spin on the classic underdog tale that’s Spain’s newest box office smash, courtesy of writer/director Javier Fesser.
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