Release Date: TBD
Director: Nick Nevern
MPAA Rating: NR
The football hooligan film genre is one that’s had many entries in the UK moview scene over the last several years. Films like Football Factory, Green Street Hooligans, The Firm, Cass and others have been giving us a glimpse into the reckless lives of football hooligans, the violent gangs of soccer fans known for clashing in the streets of England.
Many of these movies share the same themes, tone and even actors, and director Nick Nevern seems well aware of this when looking to deconstruct this now-tired genre in The Hooligan Factory. In this spoof, Nevern, who also stars, aims to make the ultimate hooligan movie so there won’t be any need to make a Green Street 4.
The film tells the story of Danny, played by Jason Maza, who gets kicked out of his flat and yearns for something more in life than laying around and smoking pot with his buddies. Everything changes for him after he meets Dex (Nevern), who introduces him to the world of hooliganism.
Much of Danny’s life is dictated through voiceover, a nod to Good Fellas, with one sequence directly spoofing the 1990 Scorsese masterpiece. Many of the films this movie is riffing on have a heavy Good Fellas influence as well, so it seems fitting.
The biggest problem with The Hooligan Factory is that, for every joke that lands, there are a handful that don’t. It’s a film that is purposely trying to be irreverent and poke fun at the genre, but most of the time it doesn’t work. Similar to David Wain’s recent rom-com spoof They Came Together, it successfully encapsulates the clichés that have now become tired in these types of movies.
One of these tropes is that the film has very little actual football in it. While these men use their (rarely, if ever, mentioned) football club as a reason for their fighting, the entire concept of hooliganism seems ridiculous, something this film more than accurately conveys. At one point during a clash between firms, Danny punches someone from the opposing side in the face, only to be scolded because they were only in the verbal phase.
The film also features some great cameos from other hooligan film stars, most notably a very funny scene with Danny Dyer and one of the most famous real-life hooligans, Cass Pennant. Much of the plot lifts elements from Cass’s life, including a scene where Danny and the boys all become bouncers at a club, and later it shows them leaving business cards on the people they beat up, a trademark of Cass’s firm, the ICF.
The Hooligan Factory is an interesting watch for those who are familiar with the source material, however this is a movie that will certainly have a tough time finding an audience here in the States. Although the characters are colorful and the story smartly satirizes hooliganism in certain areas, the comedy proves to be too lowbrow for my liking. The script comes off as disjointed and feels like a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story, however that may be the director’s intent. If you’re someone who’s into the genre, then it might be worth checking out, but if you’re not versed in the cinematic history of the hooligan film, it might be best to skip this one.