Taika Waititi has shown that he is no pushover. He might have been a household name back home, but Thor: Ragnarok made him a global phenomenon. He added an Oscar to his cabinet with Jojo Rabbit. Yet, things have not been smooth sailing for the 48-year-old. He is returning to the big screen with Next Goal Wins, a movie he has turned into his own thing. However, critics believe that he has taken his artistic license a little too far this time.
Taika Waititi returns to the big screen with “his own thing”
Taika Waititi lit up the world with Jojo Rabbit. And it has taken him 4 more years to come back with his next non-Marvel project. Next Goal Wins is the story of a coach who takes on the reins of the maligned American Samoa team.
Taika Waititi leaves no doubt about the fact that the Next Goal Wins is his story. You know that when he himself narrates the movie as a priest. Opening up about what was happening behind the scenes, he told Insider,
“The little thing like the priest presenting the film, that came right at the end. It was an idea of like, maybe it should be presented as a fable. Because, yes, it’s a true story, but I’ve taken a lot of it and turned it into my own thing.” (Insider)
He did not hold back, going as far as suggesting that he was the guy who “wrote the Bible”.
Yet critics believe that turning this into his own thing might have ruined it.
The project had been long coming. But the Covid-19 pandemic meant that Waititi was not able to focus on the project. And the Hunt for the Wilderpeople director likes taking his sweet time with any project. Next Goal Wins one was no different. Yet it seems that all this time might have been for naught after all. The 2023 flick has failed on various counts, marking the lowest point in Taika Waititi’s directorial career.
Taika Waititi’s sports drama falls flat
If one were to make a list of what exactly went wrong with the Michael Fassbender starrer, they would have to start with the X-Men: First Class star’s character itself. The character of Thomas Rongen is one of the movie’s most problematic elements. Some of the comments directed at non-binary player Jaiyah Saelua, played by Kaimana, were considered transphobic in nature, drawing everyone’s ire. The issues don’t stop there.
Jokes and gags are what make a Taika Waititi movie tick. Next Goal Wins was well short on that. The attempts at comedy seemed crude, to say the least. No wonder this was Taika Waititi’s worst-rated movie, with a dismal rating of 41% on Rotten Tomatoes.