Scottish actor Gerard Butler is in talks to star in "Slide," a youth soccer movie that Italian filmmaker Gabriele Muccino ("The Pursuit of Happyness") is interested in directing, according to the L.A. Times.
The project was originally conceived as a baseball movie, but the immense worldwide interest in this year's World Cup has producers rethinking which sport they'll focus on.
Originally titled "Confessions of a Little League Coach," the comedy concerns a father with a dubious past who tries to make up for lost time by coaching his son's Little League teams. He finds himself in hot water after some of the local mothers show a romantic interest in him, which he no doubt reciprocates.
Robbie Fox (cult fave "So I Married an Axe Murderer") wrote the script, and frankly, the new title is a better fit for a movie about soccer, a game in which players slide more often than baseball stars, and with far more dangerous consequences.
For now, Butler is only on board to produce the movie through his company Evil Twins. Kevin Misher will also produce with "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" director Jonathan Mostow.
While the project is not formally set up at a studio, it had initially been developed at Sony, which already has a star-driven baseball movie with Brad Pitt and "Moneyball."
In 2005, Will Ferrell tried to pull off the youth soccer comedy "Kicking and Screaming," to no avail, and the 2006 Amanda Bynes vehicle "She's the Man" didn't fare any better, although it's foreign grosses helped it outscore "Kicking's" worldwide take.
"Ladybugs" is a classic guilty pleasure from my childhood but I can't imagine it did much for Rodney Dangerfield's career, while "The Big Green" may be the gold standard for this type of movie, not counting the more adult "Bend It Like Beckham," which has certainly been the most successful soccer film in recent memory.
Clearly, soccer isn't as played out on the big screen as baseball, and there's plenty of room for improvement within the genre. Butler may not be shy about showing off his family-friendly side (see "Nim's Island" … or don't), but I think this one might need a minor tweak or two.
For instance, ditch the kids and make the first movie about something most soccer players have to deal with — their high school's junior varsity team. I played "JV" for two years, the second of which I was the only junior on the team, as the rest of my peers were good enough to play on the varsity team with the seniors. As far as I know, no movie has even attempted to focus on the trials and tribulations of a JV team. To me, that'd be a more interesting route, because no one in high school really cares about the result of the games, so the movie would be less about winning and more about the characters and their personal goals. For instance, a star JV player trying to prove to the coach that he has what it takes to be called up to the varsity team for the playoffs. The little kids thing is just too played out and also limits the audience.
Regardless of the players' ages, the idea of Butler coaching a youth soccer team is appealing, and it'd be nice to see Muccino (slide)tackle a comedy rather than another heavy-handed drama.
Butler and Muccino are represented by CAA, while the former is also represented by Alan Siegel Entertainment.