The team in Next Goal Wins

Feels Good and Right Having the Trailer for Taika Waititi’s ‘Next Goal Wins’ In My Life

Few things in this world feel as great as sitting down to watch a Taika Waititi movie. From the moment it starts, you’re wrapped up in the characters, wit, and heart, and then you find yourself sobbing in a corner afterwards because of how much it makes you feel things. That’s just the way of his work, and his latest film, Next Goal Wins, looks like it is going to tug on those same heartstrings.

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Directed by Waititi and co-written by Waititi and Iain Morris, Next Goal Wins follows Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) as he tries to make the American Samoa football team into a winning one after their historic loss of 31-0 in 2001. The trailer has that spirit we love to wrap ourselves in when we’re watching sports-adjacent things, and it’s finally coming out after years of being in production.

What I love about this trailer is that it has the humor we know and love Waititi for (he calls himself a loser for losing the Oscar for Jojo Rabbit and the Teen Choice Award for Thor: Ragnarok) mixed with that heartwarming spirit that comes with a true underdog sports story. And also Michael Fassbender with a beard is kinda funny all on its own. But ultimately it is the story of the American Samoa team coming into their own and finding their own strength in football.

What is Next Goal Wins about?

The true story takes Rongen into a new coaching job as head coach of the American Samoa soccer/football (whichever you prefer) team. They had famously lost a FIFA game 31-0 and that was what the world knew them for. So when Rongen goes to the team, his goal is to make them into a winning team instead of one known for failure.

The film is described as follows:

“Directed by Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok), NEXT GOAL WINS follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001. With the World Cup Qualifiers approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team around in this heartfelt underdog comedy.”

Next Goal Wins has a wonderful cast

Kaimana and the cast of Next Goal Wins
(Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Searchlight Pictures)

While people like Michael Fassbender, the use of Waititi’s frequent collaborator Rhys Darby as well as Elisabeth Moss might be a pull. The movie also features amazing Samoan talent like Oscar Kightley and the includes Kaimana in a starring role as Jaiyah Saelua, the first nonbinary player to compete in the men’s FIFA World Cup qualifier. Both Kaimana and Saelua identify as fa’afafine.

The movie itself is mixed with names we recognize and new talent for fans to love, which is often the case with a Waititi film as he ties a lot of his work back to his home in New Zealand and introduces audiences to actors we might not have heard of before.

We have a while to wait, though

The movie, which has been in production for quite some time, isn’t coming out until November 17, 2023. So we have a while ahead of us before we get to see Waititi’s next film. But this trailer does a brilliant job of getting us all excited for what is in store with Waititi’s Next Goal Wins.

(featured image: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / Searchlight Pictures)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.