“All Stars” is a Dutch “Full Monty” set on a soccer field. Equally laddish, and with the same exuberant spirit and bigheartedness, this thoroughly engaging relationships comedy about seven overgrown boys in their mid-20s who still meet weekly to kick a ball around unfortunately looks like a prisoner of its language as regards overseas B.O., but well deserves a place in fests and on discerning small screens. Film was the biggest Dutch grosser on home turf this year, pulling in more than 300,000 admissions at the turnstiles.
Slickly put together, though not at the expense of characterization, the movie gets off to a pacey start with one of the group, yuppie businessman Bram, flying back from Taiwan and heading straight from the airport to make his regular date with his buddies for their Sunday kick-around. Director and co-writer Jean van de Velde’s well-worked-out script is especially good at quickly giving the various men separate identities.
Aside from Bram, the main protags are likably loutish Mark, who’s not above two-timing his pregnant g.f., Rose; Willem, who works in a gardening center and is married to a black woman; Johnny, whose father was their coach before an illness; and Hero, who falls for his beautiful new stepmother. Apart from the team’s stumbling progression toward its 500th game, against a rival team of bruisers, there’s little in the way of plot. The friends fall out, patch up their differences, row with their partners and generally carouse; even the revelation of one member’s homosexuality is treated in good spirit rather than coated in correctness.
Though there’s some imbalance in the amount of screen time each character receives, the cast meld seamlessly, and Van de Velde (best known for the very different 1993 drama “Little Blond Death”) juggles the patchwork of moods with a sure hand. Tech credits are fine, without being glossy. Most of the cast are well-known soap actors in Holland, with Danny de Munck (Bram) a onetime child star.