The light and peppy youth road movie “Africa United” will likely be remembered as one of the jollier byproducts of South Africa’s 2010 World Cup fever. With the lightest touch possible, director Debs Gardner-Paterson depicts an aspiring Rwandan soccer player and his effervescent sidekick venturing to the World Cup and hitting a few detours before they arrive in the promised land. Serious issues, such as kids with HIV, are leavened with comedy to appeal to family auds, auguring good specialty B.O. in Blighty (where the pic opens Oct. 22) and beyond.
Against his mom’s expressed wishes, talented footballer Fabrice (Roger Nsengiyumva) deploys resourceful and perpetually upbeat little Dudu (Eriya Ndayambaje, who also offers up plenty of loquacious narration) as his “agent” and cohort for a trip of more than 3,000 miles to the main World Cup stadium in Jo’burg. Along the way, the two get lost in the Congo, intersect with a child-army escapee (Yves Dusenge) and a girl trapped in prostitution (Sherrie Silver); Dudu’s own ailments add some suspense. Physical production across several nations is impressive in this celebration of pan-Africanism.