Soccer story’s extras reclaim innocence

Dave Rossetti

But thankfully “Bend it Like Beckham” reclaims its innocence with a DVD release that showcases the heart and soul of the charming movie. The movie perfectly plays off the incredibly class-based and repressed cultures of the British and Indian cultures in Hounslow, England. And thrown into this culture clash is Jesminder Bhamra (Parminder K. Nagra) who just wants to play soccer like her idol, Beckham.

This seems like a pipe dream until Juliet Paxton (“Pirates of the Caribbean’s” Keira Knightley), who plays on a semi-professional girl’s team. If talent were the only question, Jess would be a star, but her ultra-traditional parents are not exactly keen on letting her run around “half-naked” with a bunch of girls in man’s sport.

And while her father (Anupam Kher) is a little more understanding, her mother (Shaheen Khan) demands the highest respect and adherence to the culture, especially with Jess’ sister’s impending wedding.

While Jules’ equally disapproving parents worry about her sexuality, the attractive soccer coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) causes even more complications for Jess and Jules.

But for all the drama, repression and difficult situations in “Beckham,” the movie is an incredibly joyous celebration. The soccer scenes show all the ladies’ hard work and make the games feel exciting. And the movie has an impeccable sense of humor, able to use the foils of WASP and Indian cultures and the misunderstandings between them for a lot of humor. And though some of the wonderfully British sayings could be lost on American audiences, there’s still a great amount of smart English comedy.

And the two unproved actresses both shine in roles that ask for a lot. Parminder is incredible in a role that asks for a sharp sense of humor to cut through the underlying drama of the movie. Her strength and vulnerability are amazing. And while not worthy of the re-release’s marketing blitz, Knightley gives a much better performance than in “Pirates.”

But the movie ties together the worlds of sports, culture and romance all quite well, while keeping just the right tone and a wonderful sense of humor.

That attitude is very-well represented by the DVD’s extras. The commentary by director and writer Gurinder Chadha and writer Paul Mayeda Berges, who are also husband and wife, portray how much of the director’s personal story went into the movie.

The personal attachment gives an added dimension of love and care, especially in the form of Jess’ parents. The commentary also features some fun jabs between the couple regarding who wrote the funny scenes in the movie.

A 10-pack of deleted scenes reveal a little more of the humor, and some unnecessary drama, that didn’t quite make the final cut. But the finest scenes are extended versions of the movie’s manic wedding party, complete with fighting.

In the most entertaining and educational feature, Chadha cooks the traditional Aloo Gobi with her real mother looking on, often disapproving of her daughter’s cooking techniques. It’s that humor and heart-warming love which make the film so spectacular.

Though the real world around it has changed, the incredibly likable world of “Bend it Like Beckham” still feels just right at home.

“Bend it Like Beckham”: AB

DVD features: AB,”Matthew T. Olson”