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Mainstream - Green Street Hooligans

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Green Street Hooligans
Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunman, Claire Forlani
Written / directed by Lexi Alexander
Warner Home Video 2008 (Canada)
108 minutes

Green Street Hooligans is a superb drama about football hooligans that manages to both make you afraid of these people and sympathize with them. Even if you know little about British football and its maniacs you are sure to enjoy this DVD.

Elijah Wood has less charisma than warm Jell-O -Wood is really a nickname- but it somehow serves him well in Green Street Hooligans now available on DVD in Canada. Wood plays a fish out of water American in London who gets caught up with a firm (gang) for the West Ham United FC, the Green Street Elite.

Green Street Hooligans begins with the old "guy gets fingered for his roommate's misdeed and gets kicked out of school" setup. In this case the school is Harvard, the guy is Matt Buckner (Wood), and he gets tossed two months shy of his journalism degree. He flies over to London to visit his sister and meets his brother-in-law's brother, Pete Dunham, leader of the firm, and fights with them.

The firm's life consists in supporting West Ham United FC and fighting other gangs supporting other teams. Two things the firms don't like are outsiders and journalists but Yank Elijah Wood fits in pretty well with the GSE although second in command Bovver (Leo Gregory) is not happy at all with the situation and this eventually causes conflict within the Green Street Elite.

What will most surprise a North American audience is finding out these firms do not consist of teenagers but of grown men with jobs and families yet the firm trumps it all.

Writer / director Lexi Alexander is pretty good at getting across the exposition aka let's explain football to the Yanks material in a fairly natural way. She also quite clearly shows how some of the members of a firm are pretty decent people and others just your basic criminal in a couple of very different back to back scenes. She is also excellent at showing how this supporter business if far beyond the Red Sox "Yankees Suck!" kind of thing.

Green Street Hooligans is a great movie even if it stars Elijah Wood. It is hard to see how this drama about British football firms will tweak the interest of those not particularly into the sport. That is unfortunate as the story is really bigger than the topic itself.

There is one weird little bit in this movie that screams "it's a bloody movie!": the GSE is on its way to a fight and everybody in the crew is wearing brand new white sneakers.

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