Slap Shot review by Tom Blain

See this movie compete in Jackass Critics Tournament of Sports Movies

Old Time Hockey.

So its Monday. In two days I will be in DEE-Troit City to see the opening game of the Stanley Cup playoffs (arent you jealous!). So on a tax day Monday night, what movie will get me in the proper mood for hockey? Which film would give me the proper pugilistic motivation? Of course the movie that teaches you to put on the foil and that movie is Slap Shot.

Slap Shot is a bit of a slap stick (you see the double meaning?) comedy about a minor league hockey team who is about to fold. Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) is the coach and player. If the team does fold he will be out of a job. So he attempts to inspire the team to play better in hopes that they will get sold as a team instead dumped completely. And since they have little talent, they get better by playing dirty. What a great idea for a movie.

This movie covers just about all the elements you need for a good brainless comedy:
THE CHARACTERS: If you have seen this movie, you have not likely forgotten the Hanson Brothers (no, not the Mmmbop Hansons). The Hansons are three dorky looking brothers, but when they get out on the ice, they hit anything that moves. Some of the characters you just hear about like Ogie Ogglethorp. He is talked about but rarely seen (The worst goon in hockey who is suspended, and "deported to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him.")
THE PHYSICAL COMEDY: It goes back to the Hansons. They even pick fights with guys in the stands. Their ice-time is priceless. Even Dave The Killer Carlson gets a few gut laughs when he jumps on the ice with a stitching needle still hanging out of his mouth to pick a fight. There is more blood in this movie than in a Mortal Kombat game.
THE QUOTES: What would a comedy be without the quotes? Were putting on the foil coach, you want some?, OLD TIME HOCKEY!, To all that goregeous SNATCH in F-L-A , and DAVES A KILLER!

This movie was directed by George Roy Hill, who also directed Newman in The Sting. I can imagine Newman did this for Hill as a favor because he has said since then that its on of his least favorite films, which is odd because its one of his films that has the highest cult following. But for everything I love about Slap Shot, I will be the first to admit it has flaws. It does slow down in the parts that focus on things outside of hockey (problems with women, problems with the team).

Sports movies have become a clich. Start with a bad sports team. Show how much heart they have, give them something to rally around, and watch them beat (or come close to beating) a better team. We have grown to expect that in sports movies, but over the years they have laid it on a bit thick. They become more about the drama of over-achieving and triumphing over adversity by the end, instead of comedies (see Major League, the Replacements, Mystery Alaska). While Slap Shot has the same sort of formula (and it did it 20-25 years before the movies above), it never gets sappy. Its stays true to its nature: a dirty comedy. There is no tearjerker of an ending, they dont beat a team that is more talented the two teams of thugs end up kicking the crap out of each other in a bench clearing brawl. God, I love hockey. For staying true to its form and making me laugh over and over, I give stand up a standing O.




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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