The Beautiful Game parents guide

The Beautiful Game Parent Guide

Minimal negative content is more than balanced by the movie's themes of courage, resilience, kindness, and compassion.

Overall A-

Netflix: England's team tries to win the Homeless World Cup in Rome, but the players have their own challenges to conquer.

Release date March 29, 2024

Violence A-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C+
Substance Use B

Why is The Beautiful Game rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Beautiful Game PG-13 for some language, a suggestive reference, brief partial nudity, and drug references

Run Time: 125 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Mal (Bill Nighy) is manager of England’s homeless football (a.ka. soccer) team. The players are a mixed bunch – Nathan (Callum Soctt Howells), a recovering heroin addict; Aldar (Robin Nazari), a Kurdish Syrian refugee; Jason (Sheyi Cole), an exuberant thief; Kevin (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the iffy keeper; and Cal (Kit Young), a tense striker trying to regain access to his son. Then Mal stumbles across Vinny (Micheal Ward), a man with undeniable talent on the pitch, and carefully hidden problems off of it. Reluctant to admit that he lives in his car, Vinny needs some persuading before he is willing to join the team. Finally, his love of the game wins out and Vinny and the rest of the lads find themselves in Rome, playing in the Homeless World Cup.

There’s a reason that underdog sports movies remain enduringly popular. They mix the excitement of athletic competition with feel-good stories of persistence, hope, and redemption. The Beautiful Game provides all these elements and something more: it’s a reminder that winning looks different for everyone. This is a film about people fighting their own internal battles and struggling to retain their dignity and humanity in circumstances that foster powerlessness, uncertainty, and isolation.

One of the bonuses of this script is that it doesn’t restrict its focus to the English players. The plot makes room for Rosita (Cristina Rodlo), an American player with complicated immigration issues and a desperate need to win. It also follows the Japanese team, who are hopelessly inept but manage to find joy in the experiences they have together. And it brings to life the dominant South African team, led by the indefatigable Sister Protasia (Susan Wokoma), who seeks divine help, not only for her team, but for every broken soul.

I have zero interest in football/soccer so I was surprised at how much I loved this movie. It’s heartwarming without being mawkish and delivers strong messages about teamwork, compassion, kindness, resilience, empathy, and good sportsmanship. It’s a reminder that sport, at its best, can strengthen character and build relationships across the barriers of culture, economics, and language. The acting is excellent, with Bill Nighy as the emotionally restricted Englishman and Callum Scott Howells delivering a vulnerable, caring Nathan. Aldar, Cal, and Vinny all have believable character arcs that are given life by the talented cast.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly sports film for teens, you can be assured that negative content is minimal in this production. There are just over a half-dozen profanities, a moment of mild sexual innuendo (for which an apology is given), brief, non-sexual buttock nudity, no on-screen violence, and a scene where a recovering addict takes legally prescribed methadone. That negative content is more than balanced by the movie’s repeated episodes of simple goodness; of people doing what they can to comfort and soothe the wounds of others. Sports fans will enjoy the street soccer games but for the rest of us, the biggest cheers are for the people who win or keep fighting their own internal battles.

Directed by Thea Sharrock. Starring Bill Nighy, Micheal Ward, Callum Scott Howells, Kit Young. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release March 29, 2024. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Beautiful Game

The Beautiful Game
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Beautiful Game rated PG-13? The Beautiful Game is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some language, a suggestive reference, brief partial nudity, and drug references

Violence: There’s mention of people being killed in war.
Sexual Content:   There is brief rear buttock nudity in a hygiene context. There is a brief moment of crude innuendo.
Profanity: There are three terms of deity, a couple of scatological curses, and a couple of minor profanities. A slang term for testicles is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A recovering heroin addict takes legally prescribed methadone.

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The Beautiful Game Parents' Guide

Why is Vinny reluctant to join the team? Why does he have trouble bonding with his teammates? Nathan alleges that Vinny is driven by fear of himself. Do you think that’s true? What do you think Vinny is running from? What changes his perspective on his life?

For more information about the real-life Homeless World Cup, you can check out the following links:

Wikipedia: Homeless World Cup

Is homelessness a challenge in your community? What are the factors that drive it? Are there ways in which you can help? What local charities or advocacy groups are working in your community to help people who lack housing?


Loved this movie? Try these books…

If you want more heart-tugging tales, you can read Home and Away: In Search of Dreams at the Homeless World Cup of Soccer by Dave Bidini.

More stories of the tournament can be found in Home Game by Mel Young and Peter Barr. Mel Young has also written Goal!: The Story of the Homeless World Cup.

Home Video

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