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Once upon a time, the highest-paid athlete in America played a sport most Americans didn't understand, let alone care about. Once in a Lifetime reconstructs the meteoric rise and fall of the New York Cosmos, the struggling soccer franchise that became a sensation in the '70s when it hired Brasilian superstar Pelé for more money than it was paying the rest of the team, if not the whole league.
Through candid interviews and a wealth of archival footage--quite a lot of it for a sport nobody watched--the filmmakers document the quixotic struggle to Americanize the sport, led by a cadre of high-powered financiers with big dreams and more money than sense. The film could use a little more zip in the front end--the first reel feels undeserving of the big-screen treatment--but once the ball gets rolling, the bouncy soundtrack and slick production values make Once in a Lifetime a spot-on goal.