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Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos (2006)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 49 | Rotten: 11

You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this stylish, breezy slice of 1970s sports history.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 3

You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this stylish, breezy slice of 1970s sports history.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 1,388

My Rating

Movie Info

While professional soccer is still struggling to find a firm foothold in the United States, in the 1970s the North American Soccer League marked the brave first attempt to introduce the game to American sports fans. While most teams had only limited success at best, one did manage to break through to genuine mainstream popularity -- the New York Cosmos. The brainchild of Steve Ross (a passionate soccer fan who was also a major executive at Warner Communications) and Ahmet Ertegun and Nesuhi


Documentary, Sports & Fitness


John Dower, Mark Monroe

Oct 3, 2006

Miramax - Official Site External Icon

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July 6, 2006:
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All Critics (61) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (11) | DVD (6)

... treats its audience like a bunch of attention deficit disorder cases.

August 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... accomplishes the minor miracle of making you mourn a sports team you likely never knew existed in the first place.

August 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Once in a Lifetime, which relies on interviews and archival footage, may not be a great documentary, but it certainly gets its points across.

August 12, 2006
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Once in a Lifetime would have benefited greatly from historical and outside perspective, but the story on screen is such a kick that even monotone narrator Matt Dillon gets caught up in the excitement.

July 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
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A cavalcade of theatrical personalities, juicy war stories, unforgiven grievances and old-school cinema dazzle.

July 27, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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An energetic and often enjoyable documentary, particularly for soccer fans.

July 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Once in a Lifetime is like a soccer team that plays good defense but lacks offense.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Well-researched and exuberantly compiled, this is a thoroughly entertaining tribute to America's first tackle at surgically implanting the beautiful game.

August 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Not being a soccer fan, the Cosmos phenomenon had no impact on me at the time nor does this energetic film change that opinion.

December 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

mostly I'm stricken with nostalgia for '70s fashion and Marv Albert's hairdo

October 13, 2006 Full Review Source:

An energetically told tale, with eccentric characters to spare and a nostalgically bittersweet tone.

August 25, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

With just a little tweaking ... could be reworked in a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary of swollen egos and corporate whimsy.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Packed with observations and recrimations, many of the latter aimed at or by Chinaglia, which makes for some gossipy entertainment.

August 19, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

... the film is bursting with astonishing old footage, hip tunes, vivid interviews and you-couldn't- make-it-up anecdotes.

August 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Once in a Lifetime is a marvelous primer on this remarkable event in soccer history, most likely never to be seen again.

August 11, 2006 Full Review Source:

It's a rags-to-riches story that shows how American money and imagination revolutionized not just a team, but the entire sport of soccer, back then and still to this day.

August 10, 2006
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Once in a Lifetime is riveting cinema for at least an hour, after which it starts to feel a bit like thumbing through a scrapbook. But American soccer fans -- and those interested in the business of sports -- will eat it up.

August 5, 2006 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

New York went bust, so did the team, yet scattered seeds for smarter soccer growth later.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Union-Tribune

It has some funny scenes and wild characters who reflect back on the glory years, where the clashes of ego were as legendary as Pelé's amazing bicycle-kick goals.

July 28, 2006 Full Review Source:

The movie is ultimately too long and too this-no-name-player- was-traded-for-that- no-name-player detailed for casual viewers.

July 27, 2006 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Essentially an extended cable special.

July 22, 2006 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos

[font=Century Gothic]"Once in a Lifetime" is a flashy and mildly interesting documentary about the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League which was a moribund, semi-pro league until Warner Communications CEO Steve Ross stepped in and brought Brazilian soccer great Pele to New York. There are some fascinating parallels between the Cosmos and the Yankee teams of the same era, but the Yankees definitely had more personality.(I don't think there is a single reason why soccer has never flourished here. Maybe it is because the United States is a heterogenous country that already has several popular sports, each with their own devoted following. Certainly, nativism is too simplistic an explanation.) Included is archival footage of games along with interviews with management, coaches, players, sportswriters and even the mascot...and oh yeah, almost forgot, Henry Kissinger.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]The effect that the Cosmos had on soccer in the United States was almost negligible and it would not be until the 1994 World Cup, that soccer would be firmly established here with Major League Soccer. The overall mistake was in aiming too high, making the league too top heavy by signing expensive world players and concentrating them in New York, thus laying a foundation of cards. There would have been no problem with more modest aims in starting from the ground up. Plus, the North American Soccer League had 24 teams at its peak compared to 13 currently for Major League Soccer. The documentary lays the blame at the feet of egotistical star player Giorgio Chinaglia. Right reason but wrong ego. Steve Ross should get the lion's share of credit for the success of the league but also the blame for its downfall.[/font]
June 27, 2007
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Interesting enough, but more than a little fascinated with itself.
December 7, 2006

Super Reviewer

Interesting doc about the history of soccer in America in the 70's.
May 19, 2007

Super Reviewer

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