Film Review – Golden Shoes
Generic is too kind a term for Golden Shoes. This predictable children’s film throws every stock character and overdone circumstance at the screen in some bizarre attempt to be inspiring. Christian (Christian Koza), a young boy, dreams of being a great soccer player because, beyond his love for the game, it helps him deal with his father fighting in the army. Luckily his mom Kathleen (Dina Meyer) is there to support him though his neighbor Frank (Eric Roberts), who wants to get with Kathleen, seems to hate Christian for no reason except wanting his own boys to do better in soccer. Then to make Frank truly evil on all counts he has loaned Coach Dominic (David DeLuise) the money to fund the team and is putting pressure to keep his kids in or he will make Dominic pay him back. Oh, and we also have Burt (John Rhys-Davies), a grumpy neighbor who doesn’t like soccer.
I suppose we should talk about the plot–what little there is. Basically Christian’s mom has an accident so she is in the hospital and Christian has to stay with Frank. Frank decides to get new shoes for Christian but tries to be cheap about it, and a kind clerk gives him some dirty shoes that when cleaned are golden and then Christian is great at soccer. Everyone is happy but Frank, blah blah good game after good game, tacked in heartfelt moment, cue inspiring message that the shoes aren’t what he needs to be great, it was just what he had inside himself despite not being good before, end movie.
So from the get-go we see that this film throws every archetype character that it can into the plot like it is following some bad recipe book. The grumpy older neighbor that you know will actually help out the hero in the end, the inexplicably supportive coach who helps more than necessary, the evil character who exists to just be evil with little logic or thought as to why he is acting this way. Add an encouraging mother who has no needs beyond those of her child, include a sympathetic nurse for the mom, and then throw in the President of the United States who becomes enamored with young Christian and wants to help him out by the end.
Christian the character really has no substance to him. He likes soccer and that is it – the actor does so little, says so little and really is a nonentity for how many people he is supposed to affect in this film. The actor does nothing to make this any more than a kid staring and making bland statements about being better and telling the fat goalie that he should stop eating chocolate. Dina Meyer as well is lifeless in her role. She doesn’t have clear reactions to a lot of what happens at first. The most she can do is look sad when she is in the hospital but otherwise does nothing but get pep talks from a nurse in an attempt to give her an arc but it doesn’t create any new character depth.
So much of the film consists of soccer clips of Christian being great at soccer, Frank being angry and looking for the shoes, Christian’s mother crying and Frank being a jerk not letting Christian to talk to his mom when she calls, and then repeat for at least twenty minutes with nothing being different. There is no stakes to anything, everything is wrapped up with little effort by anyone involved and you never sense that things won’t work out. This universe just lets good things happen with no one doing anything. The President getting involved was too stupid for words, that he would even hear about Christian and care shows a level of not being focused on his actual job of leading the country. Yet even worse, after two scenes with Burt where he basically complains about his flowers, Burt then opens up to Christian in one of the most contrived obvious set-ups that is so unearned and meaningless that you wonder why the character was even in the film. Despite the threats from Frank to the coach about paying him back that has no arc and it seems to be no problem for the coach, which again makes you wonder why bring this into the film. Even Frank is so incompetent as a villain that you never see him as a threat. He wants the mom so he doesn’t let Christian talk to her, and can’t even seem to steal shoes.
There are bound to be those who claim this is a kids’ film, but even children want a sense that there is something to overcome or that characters show some growth. This film has no characters, no arc, no growth, it isn’t funny, and its message is so obvious that it is insulting to children’s intelligence. Director Lance Kawas seems to want to be doing something heartfelt for children but, seriously, our children deserve better than this.