Good football films are about as rare as bearable Madonna outings or Steven Seagal movies that don't make you feel like vomiting blood. But while John Hay's second feature (following '94's The Steal) preaches to the converted, it's far better than its silly premise promises.
For a start, you have to admire Hay for his sheer audacity - he persuaded someone to part with a wodge of cash in order to pen a love letter to Man City. He also got Ray Winstone and Robert Carlyle onside, before imagining the plot of every sports film you've ever seen, and then making one exactly the same.
So there's absolutely no doubt, from about 30 seconds in, that Jimmy will get to be the Maine (Road) man - yet, in a world of not one, but two, sequels to The Mighty bleedin' Ducks, you have to admit this was a shrewd move. And Jimmy Grimble rises above the usual sports adventure thanks not only to some top performances, but also to an even rarer quality - its football scenes.
Escape To Victory may have boasted the legendary skills of Pelé, but even he looked like a dodgy Sunday league player on celluloid. Grimble (Lewis McKenzie) however, looks fantastic. When he laces up his ridiculous old-fashioned boots, before waltzing round an entire team and swiping the ball effortlessly into the net past the sorry keeper, it's simply exhilarating (particularly if you were the fat or weedy kid at school who was never any good at sports).
Jimmy Grimble evokes bittersweet memories of schooldays, and it's good to see a film which deals with the trials for British youth, as opposed to a swarm of airbrushed Yanks scoring touchdowns, crying about who's going to take them to the sodding prom. A good result, then. And you can relax now - we've got through the whole review without a single mention of "pure fantasy football". Oh, damn it.