A "Bad News Bears"/"Mighty Ducks" type paean to peewee soccer, the likeable Mexican kidpic "Atletico San Pancho" (subtitled print bears the awkward non-translation "Never Too Young to Dream" as English title) has enough energy and charm to transcend formula.

A “Bad News Bears”/”Mighty Ducks” type paean to peewee soccer, the likeable Mexican kidpic “Atletico San Pancho” (subtitled print bears the awkward non-translation “Never Too Young to Dream” as English title) has enough energy and charm to transcend formula. Slickly crafted item should make solid inroads into most Spanish-speaking markets, with dubbed ancillary versions a good idea for other territories.

Nine-year-old Tono (Giovanni Florido) is the only child of a soccer star who died not long after his birth. Picturesque San Francisco del Monte has no school team, despite Tono’s dad and his former teammate El Figura (Plutarco Haza) both having hailed from the town. Crusty custodian Don Pepe (Hector Suarez) decides to start a junior squad, assembling any boys who are willing if not able (plus one very able girl). Their hapless early efforts get a big boost when El Figura returns, offering to help coach — while pitching woo to Tomo’s widowed mother (Lumi Cavazos of “Like Water for Chocolate”). Underdogs-make-good story holds few surprises, but is attractively mounted on a sometimes impressive scale, with agreeable perfs and a nice balance between broad comedy and modest drama.

Never Too Young To Dream

Mexico

Production

An Alta Vista Films presentation. Produced by Fernando Sarinana. Executive producer, Emilia Arau. Directed by Gustavo Loza. Screenplay, Carolina Rivera.

Crew

Camera (color), Chava Cartas; editor, Roberto Bolado; production designer, Mirko von Berner; music, Enrique Quezadas. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 5, 2002. Original title: Atletico San Pancho. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Hector Suarez, Lumi Cavazos, Plutarco Haza, Luis Felipe Tovar, Javier Alarcon, Enrique Bermudez de la Serna, Giovanni Florido, Erich Harrsch, Adrian Sol, Valeria Uribe, Nora Velazquez.

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