The Soccer Nanny

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Soccer Nanny Movie Poster Image
Slow-paced dramedy with mature themes isn't about soccer.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The importance of accepting those who are different from what a community deems "normal." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Oddmund manages to maintain a positive attitude in spite of being far from home and contending with many problems. 

Violence

Bullying.

Sex

A Norwegian au pair obsessed with soccer is shown posing as a nude model with a soccer ball covering his private parts. Naked male buttocks. Kissing. The au pair is fond of repeating sayings from his country, including, "Women spread their legs for men who fight their own battles." A woman takes off her sweater and is shown in her bra. Abortion mentioned.

Language

A young boy is bullied, called a "fag," and gets shoved to the ground. A sports coach at the local high school uses homophobic slurs such as "queer" and "fruit." A teen boy makes jokes involving pedophiles and Viagra. A kid says "piss off" and "ass." Occasional homophobic slurs are used to show how some in the small rural Kansas town are intolerant of homosexuals. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen boy drinks too much wine at a party, vomits, and passes out. This same teen boy is shown drinking beer with an adult male in a basement after watching a video made by his late father in which his father tells him that if he goes out and gets drunk, to call home and he will get picked up, no questions asked. Wine drinking by adults. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Soccer Nanny (aka Au Pair, Kansas) is a 2011 movie that isn't really about soccer, despite what's implied by the title. The cover also is misleading in that this isn't a slapstick romp, which is implied with the lead character standing in front of a goal holding a soccer ball over his crotch. Soccer fans will be disappointed that this is actually more of a dramedy that addresses issues such as homosexuality, bisexuality, homophobia in small towns, teenage drinking, the untimely death of a father, abortion, bullying, and acceptance of those who are "different." A teen boy drinks too much wine at a party, vomits, and passes out. His au pair is accused of being a pedophile after taking off his shirt to give to the boy to wear since his is covered in vomit. There also is some bullying -- kids use words such as "fag" and "fruit" while knocking another boy to the ground. We see naked male buttocks, and the au pair is fond of repeating sayings from his country, including, "Women spread their legs for men who fight their own battles."

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What's the story?

Helen (Traci Lords) raises buffalo on a farm in Kansas with her two sons. She hires a male nanny named Oddmund, who arrives from Norway and is rarely seen without a soccer ball. Helen is still grieving over the untimely death of her husband as she struggles to raise her sons and ignore her growing feelings for Oddmund while disregarding the advances of the high school sports coach. As the jovial Oddmund tries adjusting to his new surroundings, he tries to get the community interested in soccer. Helen must find a way to accept that her late husband was bisexual and must move on and accept the changes taking place in herself, her kids, and her community. 

Is it any good?

Don't let the title fool you: The Soccer Nanny is not really about soccer. What is utterly bizarre about this movie is how some in this rural Kansas town act as if soccer is as foreign as cricket, when obviously soccer has been played by American kids of all backgrounds in schools and sports leagues for decades. Instead, this is a slow-paced dramedy addressing weighty topics such as the untimely deaths of loved ones, closeted homosexuality in rural areas, and abortion. One of the problems is that the story itself doesn't really go anywhere; things just happen.

The titular character is the ultimate cliché of the jovial foreigner who bungles the English language from time to time but still manages to be happy-go-lucky. The movie itself is an earnest effort to address serious topics, but it's overdone and ham-fisted, with way too much background music distracting every scene. Furthermore, the packaging and marketing of the film under its current title (its original title, Au Pair, Kansas, is much more representative of what's actually going on) is a transparent attempt to lure soccer fans into a movie that is only tangentially about soccer. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way movies are marketed. Why would a movie that isn't really centered on soccer have a title such as The Soccer Nanny and a cover with the lead characters on a soccer field?

  • What are some of the issues addressed in this movie? Do you think they were handled well?

  • On his 16th birthday, the lead teenage character is given a videotape to watch, a message from the boy's late father in which he tells him that if he goes to a party and drinks, he can always call home and get picked up, no questions asked. What are the pro and con arguments to this idea? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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