5-Word 365 #044 – Coach

I have said before that I have a fondness for romantic comedies. A well made movie can be entertaining or thought-provoking no matter what genre it falls into. Unfortunately it seems we are in a bit of a dry spell originality-wise when it comes to this particular phylum of film. Hope springs eternal, however, and I will keep searching for the next His Girl Friday needle in a haystack of wedding planners and failed launches.

Coach

On the strength of this cheap-ass poster, it's no wonder only 12 people have seen this movie.

Not bad, but hardly wonderful.

Guess what? This ain’t the needle. Here is a film that hews so closely to the formula it might as well be a copy-and-paste. There is no originality to be found within these 90-odd minutes. But what it lacks in new thinking, it at least tries to make up with wit.

Coach stars Englishman Hugh Dancy as New York trust-funder Nick. We’re not talking Hilton standard here, but he can afford a nice enough apartment and a free-wheeling social life without having to work for any of it. Suddenly, Nick’s girlfriend Zoe (Community‘s Gillian Jacobs) gets sick of his lack of ambition and up and leaves him for an acting job in L.A. In an effort to win her back, Nick decides to get a job. Unfortunately his only vaguely marketable skill is football (or “soccer” for our left-of-the-Atlantic cousins), so Nick sweet-talks his way into a gig as coach of a local Under-13s team despite having no official training, experience or references. Damn that pesky reality. Nick soon starts bonding with the kids on the team and discovers he might have a calling as a coach (IMAGINATIVE TITLE KLAXON) – he even starts dating a local ER doctor who patches up his star player – but when Zoe comes back to town, he has to man up and make a choice: does he stick with the team and his new lady, or does he go back to the ex? (No spoilers here, but does that look like Gillian Jacobs in the poster?)

Oh good lord, this one's even worse. That's his same head from the other poster! MUMMY, THE BAD PHOTOSHOP IS SCARING ME!

Where this flick scores (I swear I’ll try to keep the sports puns to a minimum) is with the supporting characters. Nick doesn’t just hang out with a bunch of people who are loaded like him; his friends are all regular, working stiffs and it is the constant bickering and sniping among this group that creates the only sense of real people. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I are never happier than when we’re insulting each other. On the football side, most of the kids are believable and a few of them even get some actual character development, but it’s Jonathan Gutierrez as Hector the star striker and David Zayas as his father who do most of the dramatic heavy lifting. As with the rest of the movie, their subplot is nothing that hasn’t been done a hundred times before but Zayas is one of those actors who can class up pretty much anything. Canadian actress Liane Balaban is good too as the harried ER doc and reluctant object of our leading man’s affections. In a stroke of inspiration, the location of their first date is one thing that I have not seen before in a rom-com: he takes her to a speed-dating event where they compete to collect the most phone numbers.

Ok, Google was coming up short on stills so I figured I'd throw in this shot of our not unattractive leading lady. God Bless Canada.

I have to say though, it is refreshing to see a movie about football that isn’t British, and equally refreshing to see an American movie where a grown man can play football and not be ridiculed for playing a girls game. On that note, is it some kind of anti-Colonial sentiment that has made the British national sport into something almost exclusively for 12 year old girls in the States? Or am I just overthinking again? It’s not that I care either way you understand; I really can’t stand the sport anyway.

 So where were we? Ah yes. It’s unoriginal, the plot is as stale as week-old socks, and you can see the ending coming before the opening credits have finished. But it is better than The Ugly Truth. It may be predictable but at least it’s not offensive.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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