The only quote on Green Street’s theatrical poster boasts that it “makes The Football Factory look like a girly playground scrap”. This can only mean it fits the criteria for guilty pleasure status (especially when that quote is from a trusted leader in film critique like Nuts magazine.) Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: Green Street.
The plot is simple. Fresh from three years of delivering jewellery in Middle Earth, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Woods) – ahh no wait, wrong film, never mind – finds himself in gritty East London and goes on to become BFFs with the leader of the GSE (West Ham’s firm of ruthless Cockney hooligans.) Green Street takes that classic East-End Geezer flick formula that we know so well from classics such as The Football Factory (and pretty much everything Danny Dyer has ever ‘acted’ in) and then proceeds to take itself genuinely seriously.
Cardboard dialogue, ridiculous plot and casting aside (as if Elijah Woods would get a punch anywhere near a football hooligan!) Green Street mixes cliché after cliché with camera blur and stern looks. From a forbidden meeting in a pie and mash shop to Elijah’s introductory lessons in cockney rhyming slang, (I can assure you, plenty of ‘bees and honey’ is spent and at one point Woods is caught ‘having a bubble’) the film dawdles on from fight to fight before a grand finale of, wait for it… more fighting!
Add to the mix some top notch swearing (especially enthusiastic usage of the c-bomb), an embarrassing attempt at a Cockney accent by lead hooligan (50 Shades dropout Charlie Hunnam) and sprinkle over some choice Stone Roses anthems and you’ve got yourself a serious guilty pleasure.
Despite all the obvious shortcomings above, Green Street still takes itself far too seriously and it’s this contradiction that makes it so cringingly great! As a football-obsessed early teen I also took it
seriously. I didn’t laugh at ‘PMS’ being described as “Pre Match Stress”, I never questioned the fact that one of the hooligans is an aircraft pilot (seriously) and I prided myself on the fact I knew what a ‘Chelsea Grin’ was (Google it).
Even watching it now a childish excitement comes over me when I hear the opening verse of “I’m forever blowing bubbles.” It’s an inspiring watch when hungover and even more enjoyable when it makes its yearly appearance on late night telly. Its romanticised violence and camaraderie are at times strangely uplifting and (forgive me for saying this) sometimes feel like a modern day 300!
So there you have it, the accents are off, the clichés are endless and the lead character is a hobbit but as far as guilty pleasures go and regardless of your thoughts on football it’s definitely worth a bottle of scotch!