The sports comedy formula doesn’t require that the movie come from Hollywood or be about baseball, football or hoops. All that’s necessary is a gang of plucky underdogs who somehow make it to “the Big Game.”
“Holy Goalie” (“Que Baje Dios y lo vea”) is a Spanish farce about an embattled seminary that forms a team to fight its way into “The Champions Clerum,” for a chance to play the unbeatable Vatican soccer squad in “The Pit,” which as everyone knows, is Vatican soccer’s home pitch.
The movie is comedy of the mostly low-hanging fruit variety, but it’s got laughs. Oh yeah.
Alain Hernández (“Project Rwanda”) is Father Salva, the idealistic Spanish priest who has been chased out of every war zone in Africa, where he’s been running schools, paying blackmail money (out of the Catholic Church’s coffers) to save his students from recruitment to this or that Revolutionary Front’s child soldier ranks.
Karra Elejalde of “Timecrimes” is Father Munilla in charge of St. Theodosius, where aged priests teach novices theology, church history and how to be priests, and have since the Middle Ages.
But it’s on valuable property, the sort of magnificent stone ruin that developers would love to turn into a parador, a luxury hotel. The bishop (Tito Valverde) has a taste for the finer things and is all set to sell the seminary and move everybody into another one run by the venal and corrupt Cienfuegos (Antonio Durán ‘Morris,’ hilarious).
It’s Father Salva who decides this is a teachable moment for the young would-be priests. They’ll form a team and win their way to Vatican City, making the case that St. Theodosius must be saved.
You know the drill from here — assemble the squad from “types,” the portly Mexican bumpkin goal keeper, the Brazilian who does “not need to practice, it’s in my blood!”
Brother Simon has some talent, but temptation in the form of a lovely paramedic (Macarena Garcia) has him questioning his commitment. No, the blind priest, the “comically” disabled Ramon (El Langui) and the other elders won’t play. They need ringers.
I chuckled at the “corrupting” influence of the game on the monastery, at the “ringer” named “Jesus” (Guillermo Furiase Gonzalez) who has to be recruited from an amusingly over-the-top American-style evangelical church, at the endless profanity and trash talk that the players and the priest in charge toss about like a futbol.
“All my life, fleeing from sin,” Munilla whines (in Spanish, with English subtitles), “and suddenly, it’s Hell, Excommunication and JAIL!”
The games get professional broadcast commentary (wisely, much of the action is off camera, we see reactions from priests and fans in the stands instead), there’s match-fixing, water-boarding, rules bending and the like.
And in Vatican City, jokes between the Swiss Guards, a brawl with casino bouncers and a guest appearance by the Popemobile.
It adds up to very little, but as time-killers that help you brush up on your Spanish go, it’s got enough laughs to get by. Almost.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with profanity, poop jokes, comic violence
Running time: 1:37