Editor's note: The review was originally published on April 14, shortly before the film's Tribeca screenings.
Hundreds of soccer documentaries have been made, but for Americans who love the sport, they generally lead only to further frustration. The domestic efforts to address the sport we love tend to be either defensive (insisting over and over again that soccer is as worthy of adoration as baseball or football) or academic (trying to reason strangers to the game, hoping that, through education, they will come to understand and appreciate it). The European and Latin ones, though more enjoyable, ultimately serve only to reminds us of what we can never have. For the American soccer fan, then, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos is like a bolt of lightning on a sunny day: an explosion of sudden, blinding power that comes utterly out of nowhere, so unexpected that it leaves you breathless. It's a wide-eyed, delirious celebration of American soccer, the likes of which we've never seen. And it's indescribably wonderful, the kind of film that brings a smile to your face the moment it begins and doesn't let go. Directors Paul Crowder and John Dower clearly love soccer, and they revel in the insanity that was the New York Cosmos, the team that dominated the North American Soccer League (NASL) during its glory days of the late 1970's. Their passion and energy is in every frame of the film, and in combination with sharp editing (Crowder is an editor by trade), an irresistible soundtrack, and a clever, 70's inspired sensibility that touches everything from the movie's fonts to its music, they serve to make the film and its story irresistible.