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Silly rabbit, soccer movies are for kids.

Silly rabbit, soccer movies are for kids. (photo)

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By the standards of American television, this is one wildly successful World Cup. Overall viewing numbers are more than double those of 2006, and the first four games had more total viewers than the NBA finals.

(To solidify the importance of the whole affair, John Travolta flew down in his Boeing 707 to support Australia, and did an inexplicable little soccer ball dance.)

The popularity might be due to a more confident, viable US team, more global awareness, the fact that it’s in South Africa and people really like “District 9” (hey, stranger things have happened)… But never mind all that! Let’s move on to the truly vexing question the LA Times’ John Horn raised a few days ago: “Why is there no great Hollywood soccer movie?”

The most amusing explanation in the article is offered by veteran studio/production executive Joe Roth, who says “We’re basically a xenophobic country and don’t look at what’s going on in the rest of the world as closely as we should.” Horn claims that the most prominent Hollywood soccer movie is probably 1981’s “Victory,” with Sylvester Stallone and Pele, a few years after the latter’s time with the New York Cosmos made soccer about as popular as it’s ever been for adults in this country.

06162010_ladybugs.jpgBut in Hollywood, soccer flicks have tended to be aimed at kids in a way that’s true of no other type of sports movie, much the way youth soccer is a suburban standard but doesn’t seem to translate into adults following the pro sport.

The real soccer movies are the small, disgraceful ones only remembered by the children who had to grow up watching them. In that context, even “Kicking and Screaming” is too grandiose a film — with its supporting Robert Duvall performance and Mike Ditka cameo, it has a professionalism most kids’ soccer films could only dream of.

It’s slightly more elevated than the two biggest kids’ soccer movies of the ’90s, “Ladybugs” and “The Big Green.” In both those films, ’80s relics on their way down and out (Rodney Dangerfield and Steve Guttenberg, respectively) cross paths with a motley group of kids who need to have their self-esteem restored and wackiness ensues. You can roughly gauge the quality of the filmmaking by a) summoning up the image of Rodney Dangerfield coaching a girls’ soccer team b) watching the trailer for “The Big Green,” goat turd jokes and all:

It’s notable that “The Big Green” relies on a classy British woman to shape up the kids. Americans don’t do that kind of thing, unless (like Dangerfield) they’re forced to for work. In American, adults play basketball, football and maybe hockey on-screen; World Cup fever aside, it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood movie about adults playing soccer happening in the forseeable future, because as a country we seem to still believe it’s only a sport for keeping kids busy during recess and after school.

[Photos: “Victory,” Warner Home Video, 1981; “Ladybugs,” Paramount, 1992]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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