The Movie Binge

Review: Once in a Lifetime


Thank God for World Cup Fever. Really, those involved in Once in a Lifetime should be saying that and not me since it probably helped ticket sales quite a bit. In my case, the world's favorite tournament made me curious about the dirty underbelly of soccer and Lifetime was waiting in the wings to answer the question I wouldn't have thought to ask a month earlier.

In the early 1970s, very few people in the United States knew or cared about soccer. If media mogul Steve Ross hadn't turned the New York Cosmos into an international spectacle, Americans might still think of soccer as the sport they played in other countries. Ross had two employees he didn't want to lose and they wouldn't stay unless Ross was able to bring soccer to the United States. Since Ross is a way ballsier, more exciting man than me (and almost certainly you), he took up their challenge, bought the Cosmos and bulked up the team with international stars like Pele. This brought other soccer phenoms from around the globe to the North American Soccer League and the Cosmos started selling out Giants Stadium.

The global atmosphere of the team and the league resulted in quite a few entertaining story lines. The rift between Giorgio Chinaglia and, well, everybody was the best. That guy managed to piss off the entire league while scoring a ton of goals for the Cosmos. Not a single interviewee had something nice to say about him but he didn't seem to be bothered one bit.

The story is unbelievable as Ross managed to create a new sport in the eyes of Americans. What should seen more believable at this point is that Once in a Lifetime was a lot of fun to watch. The film was carried by interviews with the colorful members of the Cosmos and the men who worked behind the scenes. I loved hearing from the players who happened to be on the Cosmos before they became a global powerhouse. These are regular joes who are capable soccer players, but would never have made the team later on and it's clear that they feel damn lucky to have been a part of it all.

I was most impressed with the fun-natured editing. The directors (Paul Crowder and John Dower) and producers must have realized this was a happy, upbeat story and kept the editing snappy and took advantage of their fantastic comedic timing. Personally, I was smiling the whole time. I've said this a bunch of ways already, but this film is just plain fun. It goes by quickly and is better than most of schlock you'll wait in line to see on a Friday night. Do yourself a favor and give this one a chance, even if your World Cup fever was waned a bit.