After a shamelessly predictable, secretly semi-enjoyable first installment, this follow-up transfers fictional hot-shot Santiago Munez from Newcastle United to Real Madrid, but slides down several divisions in accomplishment. With his down-to-earth missus (Anna Friel) back on Tyneside, Kuno Becker’s cheery protagonist is left to battle for a place alongside the likes of Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo and, erm, Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola’s amusing peroxided English has-been). The set-up’s not particularly terrible, but the plotting – which sets the temptations of the champagne lifestyle beside a sub plot about the lad’s long-lost mother, and a succession of computer-retouched Champions League matches – is so hokey it makes its predecessor appear a model of Bressonian rigour.
What with team manager Rutger Hauer seemingly auditioning for the director’s last movie ‘House of Wax’, and a bizarre ‘Zelig’-like turn from associate producer Steve McManaman lurking in every corner of the training ground, there are chuckles to be had. Yet the product placement and empty lionisation of the self-satisfied (now largely disbanded) ‘Galacticos’ makes for a hollow experience. A game of two halves, then, both of them dire.