Green Street Hooligan

No matter what he does, Elijah Wood will always be remembered as Frodo. At 5'6, he's not that short, but is shorter than many other actors. He has a boyishly young face, and large blue eyes. Which is why he is perfect for Green Street Hooligans, a movie that examines the world of soccer hooliganism through the eyes of a naive American. Matt Buckner (Wood, Sin City, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) unwillingly took the fall for his roommate, and was kicked out of Harvard months shy of graduating. The beginning of the film portrays Buckner as something of a wallflower. He's one of those "nice guys." He unexpectedly decides to go to London to visit his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Medallion). She has some plans, leaving him with her brother-in-law Pete Dunham (Charlie Hunnam, Cold Mountain, Nicholas Nickleby).

Green Street Hooligans is one of those movies where a summer in the life of the protagonists changes him for the rest of his life. Unlike most other movies, this summer is full of violence and brutality. Dunham is initially wary of "babysitting" a wimpy American, but eventually relents. He takes Bruckner to a football (not soccer) game, where Bruckner finds that he enjoys the game and camaraderie. He doesn't know that Dunham is the leader of the local firm. A firm is a rabid group of football fans, usually organized by team. They are essentially organized gangs, fighting each other go increase their reputations. The matches do not always matter; sometimes if they had a good fight, their weekend was worth it. Bruckner finds himself rudely initiated into the world of hooliganism. He is initially shocked, then quickly warms to the idea.

Underneath Bruckner's calm facade is seething anger. He is angry at himself for not standing up to his roommate, and angry at his roommate for screwing him over so bad. He is angry and his father and at Shannon for various reasons. The firm is exactly what he needs. It offers an alternative family structure for him. He can get drunk with friends who have his back, and he has theirs. Even better, the inevitable fights with competing firms allow him to vent his frustrations in a purely physical manner. It's like Fight Club, but without any of the brains behind it. Green Street Hooligans works because of the gradual transformation the Bruckner character undergoes. It's obvious why he's pissed, and his trepidation falls way to sheer exuberance. Bruckner loves this, and changes from a wimp to a really tough person. Wood pulls this off well. He does this by standing different, speaking differently, and glaring menacingly. The multiple bruises don't hurt either.

Firms are a highly insular, paranoid group. The fact that Bruckner is both an outsider and an American has a few of them nervous. He was a journalism major at Harvard, but he keeps this fact hidden as it is probably the worst thing he could be. Director Lexi Alexander (Johnny Flyton, Fool Proof), who co-wrote the film with Dougie Brimson (It's a Casual Life) and Josh Shelov (Clowns) introduce the viewer to firms through the Bruckner character. Most Americans watching will be just as in the dark as he is. It's a fascinating subject, but Alexander soon messes up some of this by adding some very cheesy story elements. Sure it's a good thing to stimulate conflict, but the choices that the script has feel contrived and unnecessary. Alexander tries to throw everything together to come up with something meaningful and poignant, but it comes off as a little fake.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated R for brutal violence, pervasive language, and some drug use.

Back to Movies