Monday, February 12, 2007

Birth of an American Hockey Fan Week Three: Film Foundations

Needing a break from my increasingly pathetic requests for bartenders to change the channel to hockey games, I decided to supplement my education with a little hockey film foundation. Ritch put it to a vote, and though I appreciate whoever was looking out for my womanly sensibilities with the suggestion of The Cutting Edge, time and self-respect constraints narrowed it down to the classics- Youngblood and Slap Shot.

This little experiment was supposed to be about fellow fans offering me insight into the underlying themes of hockey (no guts no glory, size doesn’t matter, etc.) but after popping Youngblood into the Tivo, it became clear to me that you people are just cruel, calculating bastards who have it out for me. Youngblood is an interesting example of a hockey movie in that it eschews showing actual hockey being played in favor of a scene in which one man shaves another man’s balls. They wisely chose not to give the villain of the movie any speaking lines, letting his prominent forehead and stubble convey his inherent evilness, which is just as well, since the Canadian accent is only slightly more menacing than a lisp. If I’ve got one gripe with this movie (complete lack of plot not counting as a "gripe"), it’s the ending. Having lost all interest in Dean Youngblood’s future during the mind-numbingly long farming montage—the fact that the phrase "farming montage" even exists makes the world a bleaker place—I was at least hoping that I could vest myself in the fate of the Mustangs themselves. The last-minute penalty shots seemed promising, but then they went and left those extra three seconds on the clock. Unspectacular game footage aside, this is a sports movie, and sports movies have a pretty tried-and-true formula. Boxing movies end in KOs, baseball movies in home runs, and hockey movies end in penalty shots. Three seconds may not be a lot of time in other sports, but it can be a long time in hockey, and when it’s three seconds of Rob Lowe throwing sloppy punches, it can be downright interminable.

Slap Shot, on the other hand, I was almost looking forward to. I’d been promised both violence and a breakdown of the various penalties, with the added bonus of getting to see Paul Newman fuck some guys up, and I was not let down. Though the romantic subplots dragged a bit—I would have been perfectly content if every female character in this movie were replaced with yet another Hanson brother—after the horror of Youngblood, I was pretty psyched to have a main character that uttered actual dialogue. I’m not saying the movie was perfect; that last-minute perfect storm of a roster in the final game seemed a little suspect, and I’m not sure how a screenwriter can sleep at night knowing he ended a movie with ice dancing. But there was blood and hockey, and a girl can’t ask for much more than that.

Birthing Status: Packing the overnight bag

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