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A gritty, hearty 'Guys and Balls'

April 28, 2006|Kevin Thomas

Sherry Hermann's "Guys and Balls" is a wry, robust comedy of broad, sometimes crass humor set in the ultra-macho world of a small-town German soccer team.

Maximilian Bruckner stars as Ecki, a husky, tousle-haired, easygoing goalie whose life unravels in the course of one disastrous afternoon. First, he messes up on the playing field, costing his team its chance to move up to a bigger league. Second, he's caught coming on to another man and is thrown off the team. Not one to give up easily, Ecki declares that in a mere four weeks he will put together an all-gay soccer team to play his old team.

"Guys and Balls" follows a familiar underdog path as Ecki goes about recruiting players and shaping up the team. The film's spirit is hearty and affectionate, but the crude, unabashed, nonstop homophobia Ecki must overcome in his attempt to defeat the team that rejected him is palpably authentic and gives the film its grit and traction. Bruckner, who has a winning personality and a staunch presence, capably carries the film from its rowdy opening to its equally boisterous finish.

-- Kevin Thomas

"Guys and Balls" R for sexual content, nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At the Regent Showcase, 614 N. La Brea Ave., (323) 934-2944.

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