The Dream Team (Les Seigneurs): Film Review

French soccer comedy shoots and misses big time.

Omar Sy, Gad Elmaleh and José Garcia lead a washed-up soccer squad in Olivier Dahan's comedy.

PARIS -- Director Olivier Dahan (La vie en rose) comes up way wide of the goal post with The Dream Team (Les Seigneurs), a sophomoric soccer comedy that takes a decent idea and runs afoul with it from start to finish. Regardless, a squad of all-star French comedians, as well as the nation’s enduring love of all things foot, should push this Warner Bros. France release as far as the box office quarter-finals, ensuring an extended overtime on Euro screens and television sets.

Given soccer’s place in the French national mindset, it’s surprising that someone didn’t attempt this type of popular, big budget sports comedy earlier on. There’s no real Gallic equivalent to Slap Shot, Major League or Caddyshack, to cite a few Stateside classics, so such a project had all the potential to land some solid jokes, especially with a cast of comic heavyweights including Omar Sy (Intouchables), Gad Elmaleh (Midnight in Paris) and Ramzy (Porn in the Hood).

REVIEW: 'Life of Pi'

It’s therefore all the more unfortunate that Dahan and co-writers Philippe and Marc de Chauveron (Ducoboo) – along with producer Isaac Sharry (Eyes Wide Open) – have concocted such a mess of a movie here, using a shallow, socially-minded backstory to hoist up a crew of oversized stock characters, whose antics tend to be as exaggerated as their hairstyles. Indeed, this is the kind of comedy where at least half the laughs are supposed to come from the fact that the actors are wearing wigs – not to mention the potato-shape nose that stand-up star Franck Dubosc (Camping) sports while playing Cyrano de Bergerac, in one particularly cringe-worthy sequence.

The plot hinges on a washed up, binge-drinking soccer champ, Orbéra (José Garcia), who, in order to maintain custody of his daughter, is sentenced to coach a fledging team on the tiny Breton island of Molène. There, he’s taken under the wing of the squad’s manager (Jean-Pierre Marielle) – a factory owner who needs to win big in order to save his company from bankruptcy. Unsatisfied with the substandard local players, Orbéra decides to recruit a band of former stars, who have all fallen by the wayside but are willing to give the game one last go.

You’d think that the sight of egomaniacal athletes trying to get back in shape could draw a few easy chuckles, but The Dream Team heads only to the most clichéd and overwrought places: Latino goalie Marandella (Ramzy) loves whores, cigars and Che Guevera; midfielder Ziani (Elmaleh) is a nervous wreck addicted to PlayStation; sweet-faced African N’Dogo (Sy) is p-whipped by his spouse and suffers from a heart condition; gangsta Berda (Joeystarr) drives sports cars and says "f--k" in English; and pretty boy Leandri (Dubosc) wants to be a movie star but gets stage fright whenever it’s time for a penalty kick. As for the scattered female characters, they’re given about as much attention as housewives during a World Cup final.

Even the matches themselves lack any real wit, and they’re cut together so quickly that there’s hardly time for the jokes to register. On the plus side, cinematographer Alexandre Lemarque (Sheitan) manages to give things a polished, pop-colored sheen, while a catchy soundtrack provides some welcome spurts of energy. Those who actually make it through the closing credits will at least find their morale boosted by the sounds of Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover’s feel-good hit, “Love is All.”

Cast: José Garcia, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Franck Dubosc, Gad Elmaleh, Joeystarr, Ramzy, Omar Sy

Director: Olivier Dahan

Screenwriters: Philippe de Chauveron, Marc de Chauveron, Olivier Dahan, Isaac Sharry

Producer: Isaac Sharry

Executive producer: Jean-Yves Asselin

Director of photography: Alexandre Lemarque

Production designers: Olivier Raoux, Laure Lepelley Monbillard

Music: Guillaume Roussel

Costume designer: Gigi Lepage

Editors: Richard Marizy, Florent Vassault

Sales Agent: Other Angle Pictures

No rating, 98 minutes