The book on which this film is based is by far Hornby's best - an almost allegorical depiction of father-son relationships that resonates with most men, especially those who grew up with estranged parents. The film concentrates rather more on the love story, which means that viewers who don't know the book might conclude that Firth's character is just emotionally retarded and football obsessed, without understanding why. His "redemption" - the realisation that women are more important than football - therefore comes across as simplistic and seems designed to appeal primarily to female viewers (especially those who hate football!). The good news is that, despite the dumbing down, the screenplay is excellently crafted and the actors play their roles with genuine depth. The pitch of the film (no pun intended) makes it ideal viewing for when curled up on the sofa with your loved one. But afterwards, make sure you read the book!