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Maybe Next Year
Weirdly, Maybe Next Year is the second sports film I've watched about Philadelphia sports fans, with Sons of Ben being the first. While Sons focuses on soccer fans in Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, Maybe Next Year looks at fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. While the jokey comparisons of American soccer fans to British hooligans is often launched, Eagles fans' reputations precede them on a nationwide level. After all, this is the team that once had a jail in their stadium and threw snowballs at a visiting Santa Claus, right?.
Maybe Next Year lifts the mask on some of the fandom in Eagles land and tries to explain the reason for some of the passion. If you've seen Silver Linings Playbook you may think you have a primer on Eagle fans, but this is a dive like few others. Directed by Kyle Thrash (an Eagles fan himself), the film focuses on four people; Barry is a fan who has built an elaborate Eagles hangout with the blessing of his wife and family; Bryant shares his thoughts on each game despite some anger and health issues, Shirley is a frequent sports radio caller who talks about the Eagles in a reverential manner. The film goes in and out of their lives as the Eagles' 2017 run to the Super Bowl is in the background.
The film dives into the reasons why so many people love the Eagles, or even love to hate them despite their love for them, and Philly's place in the grander scheme of the world. The way they see themselves based on their history, and why some (or most) of that is channeled into the football team. The film also shows the community that develops in sports fandom, in believing in something bigger than yourselves. The latter is something we have seen in sports fan documentaries before (Sunderland Til I Die being one that pops into my mind), it just happens to ring a little more poignant in Maybe Next Year.
There may be a stigma attached to Philadelphia sports fans, but Maybe Next Year does an admirable job of humanizing some of it, even while Philly fans act like, well, Eagles fans. Like the various tailgating antics that occur while police laugh, or while victorious fans hurl obscenities at fans who traveled to Philly for their team. It's clear that Maybe Next Year shows us that not all Philly fams are like that (and Thrash doesn't get into that part of it), but we do see Philly fans on all sides of the spectrum.
Maybe Next Year is a nice look at why people give large parts of their emotional or actual real estate to the Philadelphia Eagles. It does not get too deep into why there is some aggression amongst the fanbase, but having seen a fair share of soccer crowds in various places through the years, the passion and identification by so many to a sports team is on that level, and worth watching for a look at that perspective.The Blu-ray:
1.78:1 with a MPEG-4 and the film looks good. The film has a few elaborate shots (like at the end, looking at some of the downtown streets), and includes more detail than I would have expected. Some of the exterior shots include some depth also and the various shades of green in the jerseys looks natural and without issue. This was better than I was thinking it would be and it is well done.The Sound:
The surprises continue, with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack for Maybe Next Year. There is not much for the soundtrack to do, but the interviews sound well-balanced and the various crowd noise (be it tailgates, watch parties or what have you) all sound immersive to a degree despite a lack of directional effects. Good, better than you would expect.The Extras:
Save for the trailer (2:21), zippy.Final Thoughts:
It is probably going to be a little while longer before sports and the ancillary activities around same get back to normal, so in the meantime, Maybe Next Year gets into the reasons why there is so much emotion around the Philadelphia Eagles. Technically the disc looks and sounds better than anticipated, even as the extras are virtually nil. Need a sports fix, or something to show a Philly fan? This will scratch that itch.