They've done it. They've finally won their share of athletic agitprop
Less history than rehabilitation, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, a glitzy new documentary about America's first, unsuccessful stab at a professional soccer league, is more about introducing a source of pride to America's fledging soccer community than documenting the league's short, unprofitable existence. By recasting the millions squandered on aging talents by media tycoon Steve Ross as the work of a committed visionary (photos of his face appear with a frequency usually reserved for dictators and religious icons) and puffing up petty indulgences and short-sighted decisions by players and managers alike as the type of European capriciousness proper to professional football, the movie aims to establish a new mythology; one that anoints the Cosmos as the lodestar of America's gradually increasing interest in the world's game. It's a tenuous thesis, but the vintage footage and soul soundtrack do make for some enjoyable viewingâ€”although a mindful viewer will wonder why Matt Dillon, our kindly narrator, needs to keep reminding the audience of what a good time it's having.