Taika Waititi's Based-on-a-True-Story Soccer Comedy 'Next Goal Wins' Just Scored Its First Trailer

Michael Fassbender, Rhys Darby, Will Arnett and Elisabeth Moss star in this true tale about American Samoa's football team.
Sarah Ward
April 27, 2023

Make a comic-book blockbuster, then make a smaller-scale but still star-studded comedy: that's been Taika Waititi's formula of late. The first time that he jumped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Ragnarok, he followed it up with Jojo Rabbit, an "anti-hate" comedy mocking Hitler that won the New Zealand filmmaker an Oscar. Now, after returning to the MCU with Thor: Love and Thunder, he's turning a true tale about American Samoa's soccer team into his next flick.

If Next Goal Wins sounds familiar, there's a few reasons for that. Firstly, it's already the title of a documentary from 2014 about the national football squad and their efforts to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Also, Waititi's dramatised version of that story has been in the making for four years, both beginning and wrapping initial production pre-pandemic — before doing reshoots in 2021.

And, of course, the details themselves might ring a bell if you're a fan of the world game and you remember the American Samoan team's big 2001 defeat. Playing Australia in a qualifying match two decades back, the squad lost 31–0. Cue the hiring of Dutch American coach Thomas Rongen, who Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) plays in Waititi's movie.

As the just-dropped trailer for Next Goal Wins 2.0 shows, Rongen has just lost his job when he gets the new gig in the South Pacific. From there, Waititi and the film are in classic underdog sports-film territory, but stepping through events that genuinely happened. There's another important part of this story, too, with American Samoa squad member Jaiyah Saeluathe first non-binary player to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The doco made for rousing viewing, which the latest flick overtly aims to ape — mixed with the brand of comedy that Waititi has established in everything from Eagle vs Shark and Boy to What We Do in the Shadows to Hunt for the Wilderpeople before he hit the MCU. And yes, to answer the immediate question that any trailer for one of the writer/director's pictures inspires, Waititi does indeed pop up on-screen.

Alongside the filmmaker and Fassbender, the latter of which hasn't made a movie since 2019, Next Goal Wins also stars Oscar Kightley (The Breaker Upperers), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale), Will Arnett (Murderville), Uli Latukefu (Young Rock), Rhys Darby (Our Flag Means Death), David Fane (Duckrockers), Lehi Falepapalangi (Doogie Kamealoha, MD), Semu Filipo (The Justice of Bunny King), Rachel House (Heartbreak High), Angus Sampson (Bump), Beulah Koale (Dual) and more.

Check out the trailer for Next Goal Wins below:

Next Goal wins releases in cinemas Down Under on January 1, 2024.

Published on April 27, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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