Mr. Movie

'The Damned United' ranks as darn good

How’s this for unique. A sports movie without a lot of sports action.

Brilliant. The tension of whether the team wins or loses comes from watching the faces of the coach and fans and not from a series of staged, slow-motion last-minute heroics.

-- Local show times, theaters.

Soccer is the game. The Damned United is based on the true story of Brian Clough, who is considered by many fans to be England’s greatest ever coach. Or that’s what writer Peter Morgan’s screenplay suggests.

Michael Sheen (The Queen) portrays Clough as an arrogant self-promoter, and the story is centered around Clough’s 44-day failure as coach of one of England’s top-tier soccer teams. Flashbacks tell you how he got there and what happened after.

The Damned United is directed by Tom Hooper, who did seven episodes of the award-winning HBO TV series John Adams. His story-telling skills are superb. But Hooper gets lots of help from Morgan, whose unique writing style managed to make the Queen of England, David Frost and Richard Nixon interesting.

When you can do that, you walk on water. And this one is brilliant, too. The Damned United is a damned good movie.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated R for language and some mature themes. It opens Friday, Nov. 27 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.