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Film Review: Green Street Hooligans

This story was published October 27, 2005 in The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper.

I’ll admit it — I think soccer is pretty lame. I’ve never been any good at it, despite my lifelong obsession with Great Britain and all things English. Even if they can’t tell football from football, I’ve always thought the grass is greener on the other side of the ocean.

Despite my interest, I still consider David Beckham in terms of Posh Spice, I figure red cards are things that come in the mail on Valentine’s Day, and it would never occur to me to express my joy at winning the 1999 World Cup by yanking my shirt over my head. (That’s right, Brandi Chastain. I’m talking to you.)

Green Street Hooligans is the story of Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood), an American expelled from Harvard for taking the fall for his druggie-with-a-famous-father roommate. He flees to England to his sister’s (Claire Forlani) home and makes friends with her brother-in-law, Pete Dunham (Charlie Hunnam). Through Pete, Matt is introduced to the underworld of British football hooliganism. He gets in numerous fights and riots, is chased by the police and blooms from an American journalism major into a proper English gang member.

In a press release, director and co-writer, Lexi Alexander said, “The real football fans [were always] in the D-stand: D for damage. They had no seats there — it was standing room only. … At each match, a white flag was tied to the fence in front of the D-stand that read: City Boys, Mannheim Hooligans.” (Author’s note: City Boys is the name of the football firm and Mannheim is the name of the city. Just so we’re all on the same page here. I know foreign words can be confusing.)

“Hooligans were the fans hated by football officials, ridiculed by the press and fought against by the police,” Alexander said. “Yet every team had them. They loved the game, but they equally loved the riots they would organize with hooligans from the rival team after a match.”

Green Street Hooligans takes Elijah Wood a long way from his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There’s not a scent of Frodo in this film, that’s for shire. (Oh go on, you know you love a well-placed hobbit joke.)

Green Street Hooligans is self-distributed by small-time English company Odd Lot Entertainment, which means Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Newcomb may be the only time you’ll get to see it. I think it’ll be a real kick in the crumpets.

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