HERE WE GO…AGAIN

They think it's all over!

They think it's all over!

You heard it here first, England WILL win the soccer world cup in South Africa in 2010.
Right now a legion of soccer buffs probably think I’ve taken leave of my senses. Afterall, the nation who invented the game have only ever won the tournament once, back in the black and white TV days and recently failed miserably to qualify for the Euro 2008 Finals. (England needed only a point from their last qualifying game, but lost 2-3 to Croatia on home soil, despite the fact the Croats had already qualified).
However, they haven’t been talking to English director Paul Weiland, whose movie, “Sixty Six,” puts an autobiographical spin on the greatest moment in English soccer history.
The year was 1966 and England were tournament hosts.
Meanwhile, in North London, a 12-year-old Jewish lad was about to have his Bar Mitzvah, inconveniently scheduled for the day of the Final.
Great timing; become a man when your family, friends, nay the whole of the country are glued to the box, or curse the side forever if they ruin your big day.
Unfortunately, for Weiland (“Made of Honor”), he was that young man and has now exorcised those demons thanks to the “Working Title” producing team of Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (“Four Weddings and Funeral,” Notting Hill,” and “Love Actually”).
Richard Curtis, who penned all three of those films and also directed Love, collaborated with Weiland on the screen story and exec produced the picture. The screenplay was written by Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor.
The film stars Gregg Sulkin as an asthmatic Bernie, whose plans for his perfect day start to go awry when his father’s business starts to fail, forcing the family to scale back on their plans.
Adding to his jitters, the World Cup Final is going to be same day, but parents Manny and Esther (Eddie Marsan and Helena Bonham Carter) assure him that England won’t possibly make it that far and refuse to change the date.
With a bullying older brother, Alvie (Ben Newton), to contend with, Bernie’s only solace comes from his relationship with asthma specialist, Dr. Barrie, the always excellent Stephen Rea.
“I’m lifting my curse on the team,” said Weiland, in a phone interview last week from the Chateau Marmont for three days of press before flying back to London.
Of course, sport has a habit of the miraculous — Red Sox/Yankees 2004 and last year’s Superbowl — so you never know. “Perhaps England will win it next time, but I’m just glad to have made film,” added Weiland, who traces its origins to a 50th birthday speech in 2005.
“I had been to quite a few 50th birthday parties and a few of them were for writers and actors,” recalled Weiland. “There were some really good speeches and so I wanted to come up with something memorable. When I told the Bar Mitzvah story it got big laughs. The Working Title producers were in the room and said I should make it as a movie. Helena was also there and said if I ever do, she’d like to play my mother.”
Weiland made the film for a bargain basement $6 million but went up against “Borat” when it was released in the U.K. in 2006. The result was a blowout for Sacha Baren Cohen, but the Weiland has been pleased with the reception stateside.
“The reviews have been excellent, which makes me a bit nervous,” said Weiland with that typical British modesty.
“NBC Reel critic Jeffrey Lyons called it one of the best films of the year. I think that was over the top, but I’ll take it.”

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