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Once In a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of The New York Cosmos

38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Glory, glamour, debauchery, controversy. It's all here in Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos. This untold tale of America's first great soccer team and its larger-than-life superstar reveals how a scrappy team of ragtag athletes rose from total anonymity to stratospheric celebrity only to flame out in a New York minute. From the makers of award winning One Day In September and Dogtown and Z-Boys, this hugely entertaining and humorous film has everything - heroes and villains, egos and excess, wild partying and exciting sports action. Adding to all the drama are candid- and often juicy- interviews with former players, coaches, newsmakers and journalists. It's a once-in-a-lifetime story you just can't miss.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.

The 2006 World Cup brought a plethora of soccer films (OK, three) to the cineplex. The most entertaining is this '70s-infused documentary of the New York Cosmos and the brief life of the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Cosmos rose to the pinnacle of success in the league, bringing in many famous players from around the globe including German Franz Beckenbauer, Italian Giorgio Chinaglia, and most notably, Brazilian Pele, the most famous athlete in the world. For a brief, shining moment, these players and the league made soccer hip and viable to a country who hardly embraced the sport beyond pre-teens kicking the funny ball around. The film delves in those who knew Warner Brothers honcho Steve Ross, who funded his passion and lingered in the spotlight. The fast and breezy doc has a great array of music to power through the talking heads, including players, commissioners, agents, coaches, and even Henry Kissinger. The high-scoring Chinaglia is painted as a villain type, who charmed Ross and--now on camera--some of us as he recounts the days. Other players, like Cosmos goalie Shep Messing, recall wonderful stories about being a hack one week to playing with the greatest ever the next. The yarn of brining Pele to America is nearly half the film; an incredible story of dreams, egos, and dollars. The fact he is not interviewed for this film is inconsequential. He's better received as a legend, and deservedly so. --Doug Thomas

Special Features

  • Game highlights:
  • -1980 Soccer Bowl: Cosmos vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers
  • -1981 Soccer Bowl: Cosmos vs. Chicago Sting
  • -Pele's farewell game
  • Deleted scene
  • Stories of Pele: SportsCentury Interviews

Product Details

  • Actors: Matt Dillon (narrates)
  • Directors: Paul Crowder, Jon Dower
  • Writers: Mark Monroe
  • Producers: Fisher Stevens, Tim Williams
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: January 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once In a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of The New York Cosmos" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Damian from Galway on August 26, 2006
Okay, so maybe I was too young to remember the nineteen seventies and era of the New York Cosmos soccer team. But, after seeing this movie I wish I had been around to witness the soccer extrazaganza that really was the New York Cosmos. This movie brilliantly captures everything of that time from the actual inception of the North American Soccer League to Pele's arrival with the Cosmos. Indeed the original footage of Pele's time in New York used in the movie, is truly incredible! Better still is the funny and triumphant saga of Cosmos owner Steve Ross' determination to capture Pele's signature over other interested parties that included Juventus and Real Madrid. This movie even goes one better with a fantastic soundtrack which includes the likes of James Brown, The Supremes, Diana Ross, The Jam and The Jackson Sisters. I would thoroughly recommend any soccer or general sports fan to check this movie out if not just to see and hear soccer greats Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto fondly recall their wonderful times they both experienced playing for the New York Cosmos.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on October 26, 2006
Format: DVD
In the 1970s, the New York Cosmos succeeded in bringing a significant amount of attention to soccer in the United States. Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos features narration by Matt Dillon with interviews with many of the team's star players (with exception of Pele who wanted too much money) and footage of the team in action in the North American Soccer League as it chronicles the team's meteoric rise and fall that was mirrored by the league itself.

Once in a Lifetime does an entertaining job of showing how the clash of egos brought about the demise of the Cosmos and the animosity that still exists between certain key figures. It also shows how the hedonism of the day also contributed to the team's downfall. As attendance soared (they even sold out Giants Stadium - something that is unthinkable today), the players were treated like rock stars with their own table at the exclusive nightclub Studio 54 and indulged in all of the usual excesses - sex, drugs and alcohol. This documentary does for American soccer what 24 Hour Party People did for the Manchester England music scene - it captures the energy and excitement of a specific period of time with a cheeky sense of humour and with the help of a great soundtrack of classic `70s songs that properly establishes the tone of the decade.

"Stories of Pele" features additional interviews with contemporaries of the legendary player - those who played with and against him - recounting stories of his amazing prowess and passion for the game.

In a fantastic touch, there are highlights from several classic games in the Cosmos' career, including the 1980 and 1981 Soccer Bowl games.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By bobbyknightmare on October 20, 2006
Format: DVD
In telling the story of the Cosmos, the producers of this film went beyond the fawning "those were the days" stories and went into the real story: the infighting, the behind-the-scenes deals, and how the Cosmos brought the NASL into the spotlight, only to see the NASL cut its own throat through overexpansion and television deals that should never have been struck, bringing the Cosmos down with them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "Rocky Raccoon" VINE VOICE on December 6, 2006
Format: DVD
When watching the DVD 'Once in a Lifetime,' one gets the impression that you're watching a slightly glorified version of an ESPN special. What makes the experience special is the material and the editing which are marvelous. Matt Dillon narrates the tale of soccer, its history, and the attempts to make it a stellar sport in America. Just like the metric system, we Americans seem to be the giant with exceptions that gloss over the rest of the world. Soccer is a global phenomenon, and all attempts to make it one in the U.S. seem both plausible and desirable. The New York Cosmos were our best chance to have soccer as a national passion and pasttime. The efforts were admirable, realized--albeit, short-lived--but contained waves of influence that still effect us today. The director of Warner enterprises, Steve Ross, had enough desire for sports (and soccer, in particular) to launch it into American consumption and consciousness. 'Once in a Lifetime' captures these efforts well and provides absorbing anecdotes about everything that went on behind the scenes.

Having grown up in the seventies, I find it fascinating that, although I knew P'ele' as the international star, my memory faltered about his acquisition to an American franchise. The very fact that stadiums were filled for a few moments of glory is also a distant memory.

The interviews by the movers and shakers, the players and sports announcers, make 'Once in a Lifetime' an enjoyable viewing experience. If you take the Pe'le' and other soccer highlights, you can see why viewing this movie is worth your time and money on the big TV screen or in the theatre. The take everyone has about the past sometimes contradicts key players, but it isn't hard to sort out. The editing, again, makes the whole presentation worthwhile with fascinating detail. (Including interviews by Marv Albert, Mia Hamm, and Jim McKay.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D.S. Chen on April 21, 2007
Format: DVD
Growing up in New Jersey in the 1980's, I was vaguely aware that there was a soccer team called the Cosmos that played not far from where I lived. Unfortunately, I was barely walking and talking by the time Pelé had played his final game in Cosmos colors, and I missed out on the magic of their championship seasons in the North American Soccer League. "Once in a Lifetime" transported me back to the 1970's and helped me see what happened during the first heyday of American pro soccer.

Some of the first soccer footage you see in "Once in a Lifetime" is set to opera music - which is fitting for a documentary that unfolds like an opera. After a brief history of American soccer, the emperor arrives on the scene. Entertainment mogul Steve Ross' millions help to raise the NASL's profile from obscurity to unprecedented heights, but he seemingly only cares about victory for his own club rather than the viability of the league. The wooing of Pelé follows. He sweeps into New York like a god to sign a huge contract and sparks national interest in soccer by demonstrating his breathtaking skills on the soccer field.

Not long after, we meet the sympathetic villain of the piece, Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia, without whom the Cosmos would not have enjoyed their success. His bigger-than-life personality, however, brings him into some conflict with Pelé. Then, after the final curtain call comes for the great Brazilian, Chinaglia begins to assert himself within the organization, and his close relationship to Ross appears to lead to his running the team from the locker room.

At the height of the Cosmos' glory days, free-flowing money, superstar players, hedonism, Hollywood glitz and NASL championships were the norm.
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