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.