REVIEW: The Damned United

12 05 2010

Really, there’s not too much wrong with “The Damned United.”  It’s just all too easy to be ambivalent about.

Michael Sheen really does give an admirable performance, and it’s the next step towards something that will gain some Academy attention.  Those who saw him in “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon” will probably notice that Sheen has been gradually upping his game.  If he keeps up this trend, he will be at Oscar level in a few years.

But for now, not even Sheen can make any part of “The Damned United” memorable.  The premise seems like it’s something that can really rile up some emotion: Brian Clough (Sheen) is a soccer coach who plays a game of honor, yet he has to put up with some dirty cheating players at his dream job coaching for Leeds United.  We see the mettle of Clough as he raises his Derby County team from the cellars of British soccer to playing with the league’s big dogs.

So it should be heartbreaking whenever the Leeds players disrespect him and refuse to acknowledge his role as their coach, right?  It isn’t.  The movie has no urgency, and no power to play up any sort of emotion.  It’s a breezy movie and easy to watch because of this, but I feel like it had the potential to really pack a punch.  However, “The Damned United” felt surprisingly coy with just providing an overview of the events.

So, if you happen to be looking for a movie that is good but doesn’t require you to turn on your brain, this could be just the right thing for you.  Don’t expect to be blown away, though.  Expect “good” and nothing more.  B /