| There's Only One Jimmy Grimble
Director John Hay
Writer Simon Mayle, John Hay, Rik Carmichael
Stars Robert Carlyle, Gina McKee, Ray Winstone, Lewis McKenzie, Ben Miller, Jane Lapotaire
Running time 110 minutes
Made UK 2000
Reviewed by El Topo
Read reviews by The Wolf, Ferret, Nic O.
Young Jimmy Grimble is a talented footballer. Trouble is he suffers from "performance anxiety" and so falls apart as soon as there's an audience. The only Manchester City fan in a school full of United supporters, he's victimised by bully "Gorgeous" Gordon, is experiencing his first adolescent crush and is confused by the actions of the adults around him.
One night Jimmy meets a bag lady, who gives him a pair of "magic" football boots. He chucks them in a skip. But then, after his own boots are taken by Gordon, Jimmy retrieves the old boots. They inspire him to play brilliantly and his life takes a turn for the better...
With a plot taken straight from the old comic strip Billy's Boots - albeit given a more realistic spin - I expected this film to seriously suck. Yet I came away thinking it was actually quite good. Yes, it's entirely predictable and done in a check-off-the-cliches way - the underdog has his day, justice is done as the good guys are rewarded and the bad guys punished, etc, etc - but it just plain works.
Youngster Lewis McKenzie, who plays Grimble, looks like a real find. Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone and Gina McKee are a pleasure to watch, as always, as the flawed adults who surround him. It's especially nice to see Winstone cast somewhat against type - this may be the only film he's been in where he doesn't do his violent outburst thing.
Complete with a soundtrack of predominantly Manchester bands, there's Only One Jimmy Grimble is an effective feel-good film that successfully accomplishes what it sets out to.