The Good Ole Hockey Game
While winter is starting to wind down for many, Olympic hockey is heating up in Vancouver, BC as the quarterfinals are upon us. It seemed like as good of time as any to run through some of the highs and lows of hockey films. So without further adieu, let’s hit the ice and take a look at the good, the bad, and the toothless.
Alright, this was an easy one. A true classic and possibly the one film in which most of the world gets their concept of hockey from. Slap Shot is the story of a failing hockey club, the Charlestown Chiefs, and their sudden newfound success through excessive violence and all around ridiculousness. Leading a cast of relative nobodies, Paul Newman plays one of his most popular roles, if not in public opinion, at least my own. Of course the Hanson brothers are what most remember when watching this movie. To be honest, their characters are a little soured for me based on the two sequels that followed this film, all of which featuring this terrifying trio.
Not D2, not D3, the first Mighty Ducks film. I am going to limit myself to one movie per franchise in this post so why not go with the best? It’s easy to see how successful this movie was to this day. I mean they named an NHL franchise off of it! Featuring some of Emilio Estevez‘s most powerful work (no that wasn’t a joke, this is the guy guest starring in Two and a Half Men alright?); Emilio leads a dysfunctional team of social outcasts to victory, while learning a few lessons of his own along the way. 18 years later, yes that’s right it’s been 18 years, the Mighty Ducks is still a classic. Go on, quack, I know you want to.
I warned you, there would be some bad in this, and Mystery Alaska can get pretty ugly. The premise itself is too ridiculous to be taken seriously, while not ridiculous enough to be a comedy. Small town Alaska gets their chance to take on the New York Rangers in an exhibition battle on the ‘pond’. While there were a few crude jokes that caused me to chuckle, for the most part Mystery Alaska is a laugher for the wrong reasons. Russell Crowe, really? Are we supposed to believe he could pass as a hockey player? Maybe if the puck was a phone, and the goalie was a hotel employee I could see it. He could be the Wayne Gretzky of Hollywood temper tantrums.
It doesn’t get more toothless than some old time hockey. Hockey enthusiasts will know the name of Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard, Quebec’s most famous hockey player and former Canadien captain. Set primarily in the 1940’s and 50’s, this biopic focuses on the man who won eight Stanley Cups, a Hart Trophy, and numerous All Star appearances all while with the Montreal Canadiens. While it is a bit difficult to watch this one with voice overs (the original film is done entirely in French) and the plot gets a bit thin at times, there are some of the most gritty on ice action I have seen in a hockey movie. In an era before helmets were mandatory, it’s easy to see how brutal this game can be. While the cast is relatively unknown, keep your eyes peeled for some NHL cameos throughout the film, some you like, and some you can’t stand (a certain Sean Avery rings a bell).
Whether you follow the sport, or not, it’s hard for us as fans and observers to understand the human side of the game. That is the beauty of film, you get a voyeuristic look into the minds and the lives of those who play the game. So as the gold medal game approaches in Vancouver, hopefully reliving some of the great hockey films has encouraged you to tune in and cheer on your country.
Quack.. quack.. quack..
The Hockey Song – Stompin Tom Connors