Sixty Six

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Ads director Paul Weiland brought the house down at his fiftieth by recalling the almighty shambles when his Bar Mitzvah fell on the same day as the 1966 World Cup Final, thus providing the initial spark for this amiable blend of personal history and would-be crowd-pleasing comedy. Long overshadowed by older brother, 12-year-old Bernie (Gregg Sulkin) is eagerly awaiting the moment he’ll step into the spotlight, but the omens at home in Palmers Green are not favourable since his anxious dad (Eddie Marsan) is already fretting after a shiny new supermarket opens next to his grocer’s shop. Downsizing the catering arrangements is on the agenda when it’s also realised Bernie’s up against potentially the biggest sporting event in England’s history. What if the unthinkable happens and Alf Ramsey’s side go all the way?

Vivid art direction and impeccable colour-matching with the still-evocative archive footage of Bobby Moore and company create a persuasive backdrop to this self-styled ‘True-ish Story’, where master Sulkin’s emotional range suggests authentic spirit-sapping disappointment if results continue to go against him, while the manhood lying ahead is no joyride either if the travails of his hang-dog asthma doctor (Stephen Rea) and care-worn Marsan are anything to go by. Although it’s a generally breezy affair, with a blind rabbi and auntie Catherine Tate’s culinary misadventures broadening the humor, there’s genuine heart here which helps us forgive the climactic lurch into saccharine contrivance. No, it never quite achieves spirit-of-’66 euphoria, but the tally of good-natured smiles is appreciable, and the Weiland family home-movies at the close a lovely touch.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 3 2006
Duration: 89 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paul Weiland
Cast: Gregg Sulkin
Eddie Marsan
Helena Bonham Carter
Stephen Rea
Peter Serafinowicz
Ben Newton
Catherine Tate
Richard Katz
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