A thrown-together football-themed rom-com with lower-case UK TV names and a straining after the fantastical – it stumbles and falls a long way from Fever Pitch, not least because it seems to set itself a task (playing out an off-on romance against a real European Cup competition) it doesn’t even try to accomplish (the outcomes of the never-seen games are barely mentioned, let alone tied into the plot). Blokey Danny Dyer has Play It Again Sam fantasies in which a manager-type (Vinnie Jones) lectures him about the game (of life, presumably) and is followed around by a couple of lampooned commentators who talk about his life as if it were a match.
Dyer is on a honeymoon in Portugal with his American bride (Gillian Kearney), which her father has paid for – he hasn’t told her he has tickets for three England games in the series and has picked the country mainly so he can get to the matches, which of course leads to complications when she finds out he’s been lying to her. This misunderstanding takes a lot of contrivance to set up and then doesn’t seem worth it – and the scam, the break-up and the reconciliation manage to be equally uninteresting and unbelievable. Worse, it can’t convey – except in a tiny flash – why Dyer even likes football, and has no idea why Kearney wouldn’t: there’s no scene where the two go to a match together and she gets caught up in the excitement, and there’s no England triumph or disaster to affect the hero’s mood (it’s not clear if the filmmakers didn’t know the results or didn’t care to work round them). Dyer, at the end of a short film streak, is frankly unlikeable, and Kearney not much better. Phone calls to ‘the husband factory’ or the fantasy bits with Jones are just off-kilter, but not funney.
Co-written and co-directed by Marlowe Fawcett and Richard Nockles – it’s a bad sign when the creators’ names are funnier than the comedy.