Next Goal Wins [2023] – Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Taika Waititi

Next Goal Wins [2023] - Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Taika Waititi

Next Goal Wins has its heart in the right place. But writer and director Taika Waititi misses some key points and scenes.

Personally, I never heard the story of the American Samoa team, and never really knew they existed. As a result, I jumped into watching the movie without any prior assumptions.

Let’s get straight to the point: A white guy with a bunch of brown people. Sounds familiar? Thankfully, the movie avoids any “White Savior” narrative, with Waititi championing the team’s own cultural identity as their key to success rather than any brilliant tactics by their “Palagi” or White coach. And I’m here for it.

In fact, this formulaic sports triumph comedy is simple and amusing enough. Next Goal Wins derives most of its modest charm from the film’s sheer unpretentiousness.

Sports aside, I really appreciated this look at American Samoa’s culture, and their interpretation of a trans person. If you think of it, most first nation and indigenous folks have the same respect for trans folks, whether they call them by name or not. It’s just white people that make a mess out of it.

Next Goal Wins – Official Trailer
Should You Watch It?

Blending dry humor, broad physical bits, and quirky characters, this film has all the makings of a familiar sports story designed to make the audience smile, laugh, and appreciate the mild bouts of drama that filter through. Even when it misses its mark to fully connect with us.

Where Can I Watch It?

Next Goal Wins is now playing in theaters.