For years, I can remember seeing the poster of this movie. It is practically iconic. A young man on the ground with a soccer ball hitting him in the crotch as onlookers and a goat react in terror and laughter. For one reason or another, I never watched it. However, thanks to Disney+, I had the opportunity to finally watch the film and see what it was all about.
“The Big Green” follows Anna Montgomery, played by Olivia d’Abo, who goes to Elma, Texas from Surrey, England to be a teacher as part of an exchange program. However, she immediately realizes that the kids of Elma believe they aren’t going anywhere in life and refuse to learn because of that. She begins to change their mind however when she decides to teach them how to play soccer. Anna decides to form the students into a soccer team with the help of Deputy Sheriff Tom Palmer, played by Steve Guttenberg. The kids soon realize that they are in for more than they expected when rival coach Jay Huffer, played by Jay O. Sanders, and his team absolutely destroy them. But, as they all come together, they begin to learn that they can do anything and the importance of teamwork.
It is very obvious to me that “The Big Green” was trying to go for the same success that came from “The Mighty Ducks.” Both feature a mix match group of kids coming together for a non-traditional sport with a coach who is an outsider. By the release of “The Big Green,” “The Mighty Ducks” had three films, a mostly unrelated animated series and an NHL team. However, this film had nowhere near the same impact or legacy to it.
The main problem with the film is that there is no one to truly attach yourself to. The film tries to introduce Anna as the main character in teaching these kids soccer but she doesn’t really do much outside of that. The film shifts more to having Sheriff Tom become more of the coach despite never playing soccer before. However, his character is very bland and doesn’t have much motivation in the film outside of winning the games and trying to date Anna.
The kids also range from forgettable to decent. Some of them barely have lines while others get only slight subplots. Juan, played by Anthony Esquivel, is a Mexican-American player who moves to Elma with his immigrant mother who at first doesn’t want him to play. Kate, played by Jessica Robertson, is another player on the team who deals with her drunk and out of work father, played by John Terry. Then, there is team goalie Larry Musgrove, played by Patrick Renna, who imagines the opposing players as monsters during games.
If the film really wanted to work better, the focus should’ve been placed more on Juan. The film could’ve started with him going to the school and only relating to Anna due to both being outsiders to Elma. The school could’ve already had a soccer team that was terrible with Juan joining them to help improve. Then, similar to what already happens in the film, the opposing coach would’ve looked into his mother’s citizenship status. This then could lead to the team and town rallying around Juan and his mother offering to help in whatever way they can. Elements of this were already in the film so focusing more on them wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch.
Besides this, there isn’t much left to say about “The Big Green.” It tries very hard to a soccer version of “The Mighty Ducks” and because of that fails hard.