Once in a Lifetime

Rated 2.0

Directors Paul Crowder and John Dower document the rise and fall of the North American Soccer League and the New York Cosmos, the team that rode Pelé fever and media tycoon Steve Ross’ money to a brief vogue during the disco years—before it all collapsed in a welter of egos, profligacy and public indifference. Crowder and Dower never justify the “extraordinary” in the subtitle (their tale sounds all too ordinary: a bunch of high rollers riding the gravy train into the ground), and much of their footage looks grainy, washed out and second-hand. But they certainly did their homework, interviewing journalists, coaches, managers and former players. Then again, conspicuous by his absence is superstar Pelé, who declined to be interviewed—which may tell you all about the Cosmos that you really need to know.