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"Bend It Like Beckham"

Directed by Gurinder Chadha.
Written by Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Burges, and Guljit Bindra.
Starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  4/25/03


There is a point during the end credits where the cast and crew of the film “Bend It Like Beckham” is just kind of hangin’ out, hamming it up for the camera while singing the Buster Poindexter song “Hot, Hot, Hot”, that really sums up the experience of the film.

You know, it’s just a good time to sit through “Bend It Like Beckham”; it didn’t knock my socks off, but I had a great time hangin’ out with it.

Jess (Parminder Nagra) is a great soccer player, and she worships Manchester United player David Beckham as evidenced by the five trillion pictures of him on her bedroom walls.  One day while playing in a park with some friends, a girls club player named Jules (Keira Knightley) notices Jess and asks her to play on the team.  So starts the adventure that takes us from soccer to the Jess home life, as we get to meet her Sikh relatives and their stranglehold on Jess’ social life; her parents’ dreams of Jess becoming a proper, home-bound traditional Indian matriarch; the family’s hope that Jess will end up with a “good Indian man” at some point in her life.  But, soccer beckons, especially as she wins the respect--and, maybe a little more--of the girls club coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), and Jules and Jess fight for supremacy of his attention.  All of this, plus we get a glimpse of life in Jules’ household, and Jess’ sister Pinky (Archie Panjabi) is getting married soon, so in the background it is “Monsoon Wedding 2” as everyone is in fits trying to prep for the Sweet Honey Handoff.

But, through it all, director Gurinder Chadha keeps it on course by letting us hang out with his characters, and what a star he has in Nagra as Jess.  She is not visually arresting, but she holds the screen quite well and I loved all of her scenes with the family, especially as she has to put up with a mother that wants nothing more than to see Jess work out of the kitchen the rest of her natural life.  Like any ensemble comedy-drama, the strength for a good consistent film lies in the supporting characters.  Even the extras are working hard here in this film; I didn’t like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but its ensemble was pretty strong, and “Bend It Like Beckham” seems to have some similar traits to that, ahem, “other” film by throwing random funny Indian people in the mix.

Love Indian people.  Love pimped-out Indian people in yellow suits.  Love large Indian women throwing down for the camera during the wedding dance numbers.  Love watching Indian dudes check out the action.  Love hot Indian women.  Love eating Indian food, and scenes of Indian food being prepared, and scenes of Indian people eating Indian food.  Love that in every Indian movie I have ever seen (maybe a half dozen), non-Indian suitors are looked upon as the devil incarnate, yet Indian men are regularly dissed, as in “Who wants to marry an Indian man, anyway?”

This movie isn’t legendary, but you’ll have a good time.  Plus, the soundtrack is hot (featuring not one, but TWO Basement Jaxx songs--good work), good mix of soccer scenes and family sequences, and Shaznay Lewis (I KNEW I recognized her--she’s the chocolate portion of the group All Saints) as Mel was straight foxy.  I was a little uncomfortable with the Jess-Jules-Joe possible love thing (how old are these characters supposed to be?  Felt a little dirty...) and the film is a bit long.  But, all in all, wha-wha-SPECIAL DELIVERY.  Wha-wha-SPECIAL DELIVERY.

Sorry...sometimes, I lapse into rap verse.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09