In "Green Street Hooligans," a disappointing drama about an American (Elijah Wood) who slums in the beer-drenched alleys of soccer hooliganism, director and co-writer Lexi Alexander gets it about half right: She gives us an evocative sense of the soccer headbanger's life. Yet for all her street cred, she's also guilty of groan-inducing sentimentality, operatic violence and plot implausibility.
When cocaine is discovered in his Harvard dorm room, Matt Buckner (Wood) agrees to take the rap for his guilty roommate, a politician's bratty son, who promises to repay Matt later with a great job. Expelled for a crime he didn't commit, Matt retreats to England to visit his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani), who lives in East London with her young child and husband Steve (Marc Warren).
"What I was about to learn," Matt narrates, "no Ivy League school could teach me."
Steve's brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam, with a terrible "cockney" accent) heads a "firm" -- the organized gang contingent among the supporters of West Ham, a London soccer club. These hard-drinking louts may scrap with opposing fans (in balletically staged, hand-to-hand bust-up scenes), but they stick together like family. Soon, Matt is seduced and singing songs and breaking heads with the best of 'em. What's the message? Sometimes you just have to beat the bejesus out of people to find your moral center? Soccer needs this movie like Georgia needed "Deliverance."
-- Desson Thomson