Kicking It



NEW YORK -- It seems churlish to give “Kicking It” a bad review since the cause it champions is so meritorious. But this documentary about the World Homeless Cup, an annual soccer competition featuring homeless players from around the world, has far too few cinematic qualities to justify its theatrical release. Its far more natural home is ESPN, which happens to be the film’s presenter.

Founded in 2001, the competition has been recognized around the world. The 2006 installment is the focus of Susan Koch’s film, featuring some 500 homeless players from 48 countries. The event was held in South Africa in soccer stadiums built, fittingly enough, on the very site where Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

The filmmaker profiles a small number of the players -- representing Afghanistan, Kenya, Ireland, Spain, Russia and the U.S. -- providing personal accounts as well as sociological context about the situations in their various countries -- i.e., a heroin epidemic is sweeping through Dublin and the Russian government refuses to officially recognize the plight of the homeless.

These snippets, while undeniably moving, lack the depth to achieve significant impact. The extensive sports footage on display will fail to engage all but the most rabid soccer fans. The earnest narration is provided, both on camera and off, by actor Colin Farrell while the soundtrack includes music by U2. (Naturally).