Starring: Adriano Uribe, Carlos Manuel Vesga, Julieth Restrepo
Director: Rodrigo Triana
Running Time: 89 mins
Penalty Kick (La pena máxima) is a Mexican film about a man who, after putting all his money on Mexico winning a major football match, finds himself facing a variety of obstacles to attending the match of the generation.
On the one hand, Penalty Kick works well at times as a very farcical comedy with a central plot that a lot of people can relate to, even if it’s not something they’d freely admit. On the other hand, it’s a rather unlikable comedy piece with a frustrating main character that doesn’t always get the comeuppance he deserves, meaning the fun, throwaway nature of the comedy is often tainted.
Let’s start off on the bright side, with some of the film’s more enjoyable moments. I won’t say that this movie is a particularly hilarious comedy, and you won’t be splitting your sides at any time, but it’s the central premise of a man doing everything to watch the big match that means so much to him, something that I know many, many people can relate to.
Of course, real-life situations don’t go quite as far as what unfolds during this film, but there is always a bit of gleeful rebelliousness in people when they say they’ll do absolutely everything to get out of whatever committments they have so they can watch the match, something many people do all over the world on a regular basis – and especially in a World Cup year.
That central theme makes for an entertaining watch, and along with a couple of completely ridiculous comedic set-pieces, I found myself enjoying the movie more than I expected, even if there isn’t all that much more to it to really praise.
So, the biggest problem with the film lies in its main character. He’s an arrogant, selfish, impulsive and plainly stupid man who goes to ridiculous lengths for his own gain, ignoring the fate and wellbeing of everyone around him. That’s his character at the start of the movie, and that’s his character at the end, with the story offering little development to let you see him grow into someone at least a little more likable.
As a result, while I enjoyed the overall premise of Penalty Kick, the light fun factor was really tainted by the fact that you’re following a complete idiot around for an hour and a half.
Now, the one saving grace is that the film’s finale does go a little bold and offer something both unexpected and rather satisfying, so if you get to that point, you’ll see there is a good bit of light in a film that generally seems far messier and more unpleasant, however the fact remains that a lot of the movie is a frustrating and often unlikable one, even when its central premise and humour do provide some good fun from time to time, which is why I’m giving Penalty Kick a 6.5 overall.