Droll docu “Africa United,” by young Icelandic helmer Olafur Johannesson, offers a classic underdog story about a multicultural team of argumentative, semi-skilled, semi-professional soccer players. A crowdpleaser at the recent Karlovy Vary fest, pic could score a few goals theatrically but will play more confidently on TV.
Formed by hangdog-featured Moroccan manager Zakaria “Zico” Anbari, Africa United reps a team made up mostly of immigrants to Iceland. Accepted into the country’s third-division after years in the amateur leagues, they face the challenge of escaping relegation. Nigerian star player St Paul Edeh, a competent player with a bad attitude is coaxed aboard but argues frequently with Serbian midfielder Zlatko Krickic, who throws in the towel halfway through the season. Columbian coach Alex Lopez Munoz is hopeless at maintaining discipline. Unable to work together cohesively and constantly penalized for fouls, they lose repeatedly, until a predictable rallying in pic’s second half. Players’ constant bickering gets mildly tedious, but editing does fancy footwork to up the comic ante, and tech credits are respectable. Numerous sequences shot abroad suggest the film’s budget is higher than the team’s.