CinemaCon rolls on, and one of the (few) trailers released is for Next Goal Wins, Michael Fassbender’s return to acting since taking a break (technically a “retirement”, but come on, no one really believed he was never going to act again) following 2019’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix. It’s amazing to me that movie came out in 2019, it feels one million years old, though it is a four-year gap. Michael Fassbender’s “retirement” has graduated high school.


Next Goal Wins is also the return of Taika Waititi, who directed and co-wrote the film, after the mixed reception of Thor: Love & Thunder, though Goal was made before that movie. It was actually caught in the Disney-Fox merger, initiated as a Fox Searchlight production that Disney inherited and decided to keep, perhaps to keep Waititi happy, since he had another Thor movie on the horizon for them.

Goal looks really charming, tying Taika’s Best Picture loss for Jojo Rabbit and Teen Choice Award loss for Love & Thunder to the American Samoa soccer team’s all-time losing streak. This is a cheeky movie about losers! Never mind that Taika did win an Oscar! It’s cute, though, and plays well within the trailer, introducing us to the American Samoa soccer team, one of the worst in all of FIFA. 


Fassbender stars as Thomas Rongen, the USA men’s national soccer team coach, who was fired from that position after the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2011 FIFA World Cup. He then went to coach the American Samoa team, and, well, no spoilers. But this will undoubtedly be a feel-good movie, and the November 17 date is friendly to both awards season and families looking for something to watch during the US Thanksgiving holiday.

I know Taika surprised everyone with Thor: Ragnarok, but feel-good movies about misfits forming friendships and forging unlikely family bonds is his bread and butter. Goal looks right in line with films like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and this is the Taika that I love best. There’s also an “oh yeah, Michael Fassbender is a great actor” moment in the trailer, but then there is his asterisk-inducing history of abuse allegations which puts a damper on things. I’m sure it won’t stop everyone from rapturously receiving him back into cinema, that seems to be a theme this year. Another theme this year, though, is the mid-budget film making a comeback, and Goal is poised to be a feel-good holiday hit. We could use one of those, though some of us will be uncomfortable with Fassbender’s unchallenged return.


In related Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby-related news, the second season of Our Flag Means Deathwrapped in December. No word yet on a release date, but it will probably be by the end of the year. It’s another story about misfits forming friendships and unlikely family bonds, and this one comes guilt-free.