Guys and Balls

Guys and Balls (Männer wie wir), directed by Sherry Horman, is a German coming-of-age comedy film about a gay soccer team. Ecki (played by Maximilian Brückner), who is about twenty years old, is the son of a corpulent baker (played by Dietmar Bär) in a small German town. Employed as his father’s assistant, his one form of recreation is soccer. As a goalie for the Boldrup team, however, he proves inadequate in an important game, so he teammates are angry at him after the match. A bit drunk, he is thrown out of a beer garden, where he encounters another teammate. They play, rolling together on the ground, when Ecki suddenly plants a kiss on the other man. While the latter strenuously objects that the kiss is unwelcome, the other players exit the drinking establishment, hear the accusation, and taunt Ecki for being gay. Soon, he is fired from the team, since he is not a “real man,” whereupon he vows to assemble a gay soccer team for a match with his former team. He gets no support at home from his father and little from his mother (played by Saskia Vester). His father is particularly disgruntled because he must now cope with various unpleasant statements of various customers, one of which cracks jokes that will probably amuse filmviewers. In any case, Ecki decides to take a bus to Dortmund, where his sister Susanne (played by Lisa Ponthoff) lives. While going to her workplace, he meets handsome Ercin (played by Billey Demirtas) , whom he surmises is gay. Fortunately, Susanne allows Ecki to live with her and to help in his efforts to recruit a team. After he finds an unused soccer field, owned by a wizened former soccer champ, Karl (played by Rolf Zacher), and his spouse, he goes in pursuit of potential players, one of which is indeed Ercin. However, the rest of the team consists of stereotypic gays whose physical conditions do not suggest that they have much of a chance against the seasoned team in Ecki’s hometown. Three leather types, two Brazilians, a masculine-appearing lesbian, and several limpwristed guys make up most of the team, though a straight boy joins because he has an interest in Susanne. One of the leathermen has a seven-year-old son and a former wife who is eager to deny visiting privileges. When word leaks out that the real purpose for the team is revenge, the group breaks up. The son, is eager to attend the match, is so disappointed that he galvanizes the leathermen to reconsider, and soon the team meets again for practice. But now the proprietor, who has appeared to be unimpressed with the gay team, decides to coach them and to train them. All the homophobic and personal conflicts are resolved at the match, the outcome of which is of course predictable. Homophobic comments, liberally dished out throughout most of the film, thus are absent at the end. However, coming on the heels of Summer Storm, which featured a very attractive German gay teen crew team, Guys and Balls will be a disappointment–in plot, in eye-candy opportunities, and in stereotypes. MH

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