SA Movie Choice: 'Bend it Like Beckham' ages well, mostly

Four years before David Beckham  arrived in MLS in 2007, a women's soccer movie with his name in the title grossed $20 million within four months of its U.S. release.

Bend it Like Beckham (2003)

The spiel
Most American viewers didn’t recognize the title, but they certainly did feel at home with the dramedy story of a Punjabi family’s encounter with a new Anglican culture and the challenges it brings.

Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) goes against her parents’ wishes to follow her older sister (who’s pursuing a career and more importantly, a husband) and instead teams up with Jules (Kiera Knightley) on a women’s team in hopes to someday play professional soccer. What follows is a two-hour jaunt filled with female empowerment, laughs, and good old teenage drama, in that order.

What hasn’t aged well is Jules and Jess’ coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) coming onto them both at separate times. We don’t know their exact ages, but we do know the optics are not good. Jess’ Sikh family’s accents and customs are often used for comedic effect, which looking back, hasn’t done the film any favors.

Best lines
It’s not a line per se, but Kiera Knightley convincing Jess to play college soccer in America using old WUSA highlight tapes of Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain et al is pretty cool.

Did you know?
Fox searchlight executives were thinking of renaming the film “Move it Like Mia” for the U.S. release. Yikes. The Hindi release’s title? “Football, Shootball, Oh God!” Go figure. The German version title got tweaked to "Kick it Like Beckham."

Ways to watch
Amazon Prime, YoutubeTV,


Also by recommended by Soccer America interviewees Sissi, Grant Wahl, Daryl Grove.

1 comment about "SA Movie Choice: 'Bend it Like Beckham' ages well, mostly".
  1. R2 Dad, March 23, 2020 at 8:34 p.m.

    I've re-watched the clips from this movie, still one of my favorites, and didn't remember it being as creepy as it seems now. Eww.

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