Every once in a while, documentary filmmakers are so shockingly good at being in the right place at the right time that one wonders if they had a crystal ball or a tricked-out DeLorean.
In Maybe Next Year, director Kyle Thrash had the foresight and/or good fortune to chronicle a handful of die-hard Philadelphia Eagles supporters during the team’s 2017 season. What started as an exploration of fandom — specifically one of sports’ most passionate yet demonized groups — became something even more fascinating when the NFL East squad experienced unprecedented challenges and success.
Wisely adopting a fly-on-the-wall approach, Thrash observes Shirley, Barry, Bryant and Jesse, incorporating their appearances on TV, radio and social media, as well as occasionally serving as a sounding board for their personal and Eagles-related highs and lows.
While some of these A/V sources are fairly amateurish and access to official game footage and shots of fans inside the Eagles’ stadium might have resulted in a slicker, more complete overall film, the lack of such insider imagery nicely fits the subjects’ lives. These are working-class fans, accustomed to watching the games at home or with friends — including at Barry’s luxurious “Locker Room” space, which is a wonder to behold but has a charming backstory that keeps him from feeling elitist.
The end result of the Eagles’ season and postseason is well known to casual sports fans — and likely many nonfans with good memories — but the connections to these four individuals expands the journey and adds unexpected levels of suspense to the proceedings.
And though Maybe Next Year doesn’t offer many answers about what makes Eagles fans unique, the basic tale of the team’s magical season is so entertaining and special that little adornment is necessary.
Available to rent starting Nov. 10 via Amazon Video, iTunes and other streaming services