Documentary Review: ‘Maybe Next Year’

Review by James Lindorf

Philadelphia is also known as The City of Brotherly Love. It is the home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and of course, the Philadelphia Eagles. Before their improbable win over the New England Patriots in 2017, the Eagles winning it all was a thing of the past much like Philly’s role in American history. It had been 58 years since the city of Philadelphia could celebrate with the Eagles. Despite nearly six decades of futility, the Eagles have a large following of admirers who put the fan in fanatic. Eagles Nation is notorious for its dedication and being made of the worst fans in the world. They have thrown batteries at opposing players, booed injured players, spent time in the stadium jail, and even pelted Santa Claus with snowballs. Director Kyle Thrash takes a closer look at some of the Eagles’ most devoted fans in his newest documentary “Maybe Next Year.” “Maybe Next Year” will be available on Apple TV, Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, and Vimeo on Demand starting November 10th.

Thrash had to walk a tightrope while making “Maybe Next Year.” It would have been easy to come off as making fun of his subjects and their over-the-top devotion to the Eagles. Instead, he was able to turn the emotions to 11 and highlight the best and worst of Eagles Nation. The subjects’ fear, anger, joy, and passion were palpable, and it is both inspiring and unsettling. Thrash was able to wade through the muck and find the best of the best fans to showcase. Maybe Next Year’s superfans include a Youtuber with over 2.14M subscribers, a man who opened a bar in his backyard covered in Eagles memorabilia, and a regular on sports radio known as “Eagles Shirley.” While Thrash prefers to focus on the positive, my mind could help to go to darker places.

The unabashed love is something the world could use more of, but many fans take it to a toxic level. Watching people screaming and jumping up and down in anger makes me worry about their heart health. That one day, their family will find them slumped over in a recliner having yelled themselves to death. General Eagles fans not being followed in the film are often shown yelling and cursing to intimidate the other team’s fans. While not shown in the movie, there are many instances where these interactions become physical. There are also studies about how towns with losing football teams experience a spike in domestic violence directly after the game.

The fans’ lives rotate around the Eagles; much of their joy, anger, and sadness are based on wins and losses. While winning is important, the Eagles are just a means to an end, and that end is human connection. The people like the Eagles, but it is the companionship that they crave. Most people started watching football with a family member, and that is what made the games special. No matter what your relationship with football is like, you will be able to appreciate the intense devotion and the symbiotic relationship between supporters, city, and team. Thanks to Thrash and his four Eagles superfans, maybe this is the year Eagles Nation has a shot at being known for something positive.

Genre: Documentary
Original Language: English
Director: Kyle Thrash
Producer: Kyle Thrash, Ian Ross
Release Date (Streaming): Nov 10, 2020
Runtime: 1h 23m
Production Co: Wavelength Productions, Bow and Arrow Entertainment

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