Sunday, September 20, 2015

A perfect storm of really fantastic awesomeness.

Assholes. F--kers. Miserable, rotten bastards.
Bags of all varieties, Douche, Scum and sometimes I'll even go with Shit.

There have been many things I have called Philadelphia sports fans in my life, and quite frankly, they've deserved every label thrown their way. I've sat in the Vet and Citizens Bank to see the Phills battle my Red Sox and it's rarely a nice time. Some guy called me a f--king piece of shit...because I clapped for a third out. Hell, I've even risked my life watching the Bruins play the Flyers from the last row. I don't want to even mention the things I heard up there.

Through it all, I've always left the stadium, in victory or defeat, thinking, these people are the most joyless souls on the planet. I mean, do they really even like sports? The answer is simple. No. 

They f--king love them. Almost more than anything.

After watching the film, there's really only one thing left to do...
Get the Jolly Franklin tattooed on my chest.
Oh, or...go to a game. I guess I could start there.
Thirty seconds into the preview, I was totally sold on the sports documentary, Sons of Ben. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I'm a huge sports fan, or the fact that I currently live in Pennsylvania (and used to live right outside of Philly). But even if none of the above were true, this film wouldn't be any less compelling. And remember, this is coming from someone who generally hates those cheese-steak eating sons of bitches.

Sons of Ben tells the unlikely story of Bryan James, a Philly guy and avid soccer fan, who cooks up just about the most ridiculous idea ever: he decides to root for a team that doesn't exist. No, not a Super Bowl Winning Philadelphia Eagles team, silly, but a Major League Soccer team. Years back, James and his friends had caught wind that the MLS was thinking about expanding, and their mission was simple: support the team. With as many people as they can. And then...maybe, just maybe they'll actually get one.

James wagers everything he has on this absurd idea of the Sons of Ben, this passionate group of soccer fans, armed with every component of fandom except a team to root for. He launches a website, creates an insane amount of merchandise, and rallies the troops over and over to desperately try to catch the eye of Major League Soccer's commissioner. But even though it's a great story, and possibly even a nice hobby, this film shows us the harsh reality of wholeheartedly believing in a dream.

As much as the subject alone routinely captivated me, the success of any good documentary rests squarely on the shoulders of the people pouring their souls out in front (and behind, no doubt) of the camera. While Bryan's story is certainly inspiring, it's the other members of the Sons of Ben that elevate this film to something special. Corey, Nick and (especially) Brad each tell an emotional story of the sacrifices they put forth to see professional soccer come to Philly. Obviously the team means a lot to each of them, but as the film goes on it's apparent that something much larger is happening for these men, each of whom has battled to get where they are. It's not a soccer's a family.

Also not a soccer group, but (unfortunately) family, are the Yays and Boos. These two are huge football fans...except the kind with pads and minute-long breaks after every play. And if you happen to be an Eagles fan reading this...I'm not going to tell you my favorite teams. Yes, teams. You'll probably punch your monitor. And you've already had a bad enough day...

Brad is the quintessential Philly sport fan. He's a bit of an a-hole...
...but he'd go through a wall for you.
(so yeah, he might be family...)
  • Early on, we get a detailed explanation of the Jolly Franklin logo (pictured above) and it's spectacular. 
  • Check out the big brain on Brad! Brad, pictured to the right, explains how he used to pass out magnets to just about everyone he would come across. Eventually, it gets to the point where people tell him, Dude, you already gave me one. That's so awesome. I gotta make some magnets, asap. And get Brad's number.
  • Sports Illustrated comes up huge. First, it was supplying a twelve year-old m.brown with something called the swimsuit issue. Then, years later, it was a brief shout-out to the Sons of Ben. I guess everybody got on their football phones, because SoB membership quickly quadruples after the mention in SI.
  • There's a very bittersweet story about Patricia Trippley that I'm still thinking about days later. This is a Yay, because what this woman stands for, and what came from her loss, is nothing short of inspirational. If I went through what she did...I would disappear into madness. She politely refuses that fate.
  • The SOBs story is motivating enough, right? Right. But these dudes don't just support soccer. They support everyone. I'm not kidding.
  • Goddamn, we actually pulled this off. 
  • And finally, even though I don't think I'll ever admit to admiring a bunch of Philly sports fans, this documentary shows even the biggest bunch of losers can win the whole damn thing. If I was wearing a cap, I'd certainly tip it in their direction. The filmmakers, too. 

I don't want to jump on the bandwagon or anything...but...
I really want a shirt. Or a scarf. 
  • My God, I'm hearing it in my sleep. PHIL-A-DEL-PHI-A. (clap, clap, clapclapclap). 
  • Really, New England Revolution fans, really? In a film featuring Philly fans, we come off like the biggest jerks? Nice going, Massholes.
  • Nick, I love you, but leaving the Dodgers? The DODGERS? Crazy, man. Crazy.
  • And speaking of, it ain't always sunny in Philadelphia. Good Lord, when it's gets really gets bad. Stock market crashes, Bryan's marriage is on the rocks...but Nick? Nick's dealing with some truly terrible news. 
  • Negadelphians. I'm only booing this because I never knew a term existed. I just went with Dickheads.
  • Excluding what I just said, who wouldn't support this cause? What kind of rat-bastard would root against the Sons of Ben?Internet forum trolls, that's who.
  • Oh, and St. Louis? Thanks for stealing Bryan's formula, you unoriginal bastards. Why don't you start helping the Rams pack for L.A., you friggin' clowns. 
  • And finally, I'm not really sure about the ending in this one. Is it a happy ending? I guess it is. For the most part, anyway. But there's one character I feel really bad for. Like, one character that kind of got the raw deal in the whole thing. Goes by the name of Chester..a jewel that's still unpolished, you know?
You might be thinking that a soccer-doc isn't for you, but clearly, if you've made it this far in my post, you're smarter than that. And, this is a movie about putting everything you've got into something that's most ordinary people would see as a complete waste of time. And as a blogger, that's an idea I can really get behind. 

Hell, I love that kind of story. 

More than almost anything. 

(Even the New England Patriots)
(and the Cowboys...I was born in TX)


  1. Negadelphians, lol. Are there actually Posidelphians somewhere?

    1. I do not believe such a beast exists, though this film may suggest otherwise.

  2. I've never heard of this, but I'm sold.

    1. Yeah, it's pretty good, man. Not sure it would totally be your cup of tea, but a solid documentary regardless.