The Unbeatables (4 stars)

The Unbeatables

An enjoyably quirky football-themed animation featuring the voices of Rupert Grint and Rob Brydon

The Unbeatables (original title Metegol) is probably the last film you would expect from Argentinean director Juan José Campanella. His first feature since the moody, labyrinthine and ultimately Oscar-winning thriller The Secret In Their Eyes is a cheekily inventive 3D animation in which a table football team comes to life to save the honour of a shy, small-town hero and help him win his girl. You simply cannot accuse Campanella of playing safe.

The Unbeatables stands out from a crowded animated field precisely because of the emphasis that Campanella places on quirky characterisation and sly wit. It is a simple story, celebrating the triumph of an underdog but it is also filled with Dali-esque visual extravagance and knowing humour. One of the insurance companies listed as a sponsor for the big game is Norfolk & Chance (think about it) and at one point a character proudly declares, 'You can trust me, I worked at FIFA.'

The British voice cast (Rob Brydon, Peter Serafinowicz, Alex Norton etc) have been well chosen with Rupert Grint voicing Amadeo, a positive whizz at table football but who's slightly less accomplished when it comes to tackling life and love. His one great moment comes when he beats village bully Flash (Anthony Head). Ten years later, Flash is considered the greatest football player in the world and returns to exact revenge for his humiliation by destroying Amadeo's village to create his football academy. The only way to settle their differences is a do-or-die grudge match on the football pitch.

Told in flashback, The Unbeatables is good fun for young and old alike, delivering its moral lessons and criticism of the beautiful game with a light touch. It is typical summer family fare, but with more of a kick.

General release from Fri 15 Aug.

The Unbeatables Trailer

The Unbeatables (Metegol)

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • Argentina / Spain / India / US
  • 1h 37min
  • U
  • Directed by: Juan José Campanella
  • Cast: Rupert Grint, Anthony Head, Peter Serafinowicz
  • UK release: 8 August 2014

Amadeo (Grint) is a whiz at table football but unlucky at everything else, forced to square off against the bullying Flash (Head) in an attempt to save his village. Cheekily inventive 3D animation from Argentinean director Campanella, standing out from other animated family fare by its quirky characterisation and dry wit.