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Friday, September 12, 2008

Please Make It Stop

Hockey isn't the only thing that gets our attention around here, movies do the same thing. When they decide to collaborate the memorable and successful parts are hailed as all-time wonders while the miserable failures are swept under the rug or locked away in the basement to be forgotten about forever.

Think about it. The be-all, end-all of hockey movies is and forever shall be George Roy Hill's comedy wonder Slap Shot. Paul Newman headlined the cast and played the role of Reggie Dunlop masterfully perfect. Those of you who know or have befriended hockey players know that there's always a guy like Reg amongst the hockey playing masses.

Reg was cool, Reg was ahead of the game and most of all, Reg wanted to do right by his teammates whether it was motivating the guys by making them think they were headed to Florida or by antagonizing the other team into losing their mind or their bladder. Reg was the captain and coach of the Charlestown Chiefs and you couldn't ask for anyone better than him.

What's got me worked up here is that Hollywood seems to have an odd and spiteful relationship when it comes to hockey movies. Take, for instance, the movie Youngblood a movie that's gotten a renaissance makeover thanks to the cast having very young actors named Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Back in 1986, the movie stunk and didn't get much attention.
Fast forward 20 years and have all three guys attain huge celebrity status (even icon status if you're name is Swayze) people accept the film for its crappiness and now love it even in spite of its somewhat hackneyed storyline. Talk about making the best of an initially bad thing, Youngblood pulled it off big time.

Other films like Mystery, Alaska and the incredibly well done and well performed Disney picture, Miracle were entertaining enough or inspiring enough to gain instant credibility and make folks think that hockey culture or the game itself lends itself well enough to be made again and again on the screen.

Unfortunately, you're dealing with Hollywood - home of a group of people even more shameless and carefree about their attempts to steal money from consumers foolish/ridiculous/dumb enough to cough up money for anything and everything hockey related.

It's for these people the first stone was cast into making hockey thoroughly unpalatable. It is these people that I blame for giving rise to Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice. Now, mind you, Slap Shot the iconic classic film was made in 1977. Slap Shot 2 the direct-to-video abomination came out in March 2002, conveniently 25 years after the original.

I'm sure it seemed like a good idea on paper to make a movie virtually in tribute to the original all while making something new and keeping the original movie fresh in the minds of the movie consuming public as well as the hockey fans.

Problem here being that releasing a special 25th Anniversary Edition DVD of Slap Shot would've done the same and been better served. Just picture getting a double-disc edition of the original movie with the second disc loaded with interviews with the guys, perhaps a feature called "Catching Up With the Felons of Hockey" and doing plenty of interviews with Ogie Ogilthorpe and Dr. Hook. Imagine getting to go back and revisit the arena where the Chiefs played at as well as some of the other teams of the Federal League. How great would that have been?

Instead, we got Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Barry Melrose and Dave Babych (yes, the former Canucks defenseman) in a direct-to-video slopfest with a plot so ludicrous I'm not even going to bother laying it out for you. If you're demented enough to check it out, feel free, but if you don't want to get all angry about these things the way I am then don't bother. You've been warned.

Slap Shot 2 sucks. Hard.

This kind of crapfest has not satisfied those in charge enough, however.

Do me a favor and click this link and try not to put your head through an electric fence covered in razor wire and guarded by rabid pit bulls.

Words fail me.

Slap Shot 3: The Junior League

Again, it's set to be direct to video so that means it won't suffer the ignominous failure of seeing time on the big screen for a week before being moved aside for something involving Tyler Perry or Jason Statham or both.

Instead, they're trying to dial it back to the "roots" of the original masterpiece and they've recruited Leslie Nielsen to play the part of the Mayor of Charlestown.

This is going to suck harder than Tera Patrick.

As bad as this is going to be, and as much as it sucks that the only people that are involved in all three movies are the cult heroes the Hanson Brothers. I'd love to hang the blame on them and say that their over-the-top performance as the greatest all-time movie goons helped to feed this need to ruin the legacy of Slap Shot, but I can't do that. I hang it all on Hollywood executives that just can't let something get away without bleeding it dry and then screwing the bloodless corpse afterwards.

I'd like to say that that direct-to-video slop fest is what I'm ultimately most upset about, but I can't do it.


Because Slap Shot is about to go the way of The Bad News Bears and The Longest Yard - other iconic 1970s sports films.

It's apparently going to be remade with a modern twist.

Public Enemy #1 to hockey legacy and film making as well as supposed screenwriter Peter Steinfeld had this to say about the project:

"Right now I’m finishing writing the re-make of the iconic hockey movie Slap
Shot for Universal. I’ve never had so many people hate me for writing something
they haven’t seen yet. It’s such a classic film and fans of the original feel
like I’m grave-robbing or something. But I think the movie will be really fun
and will capture what it’s like to play minor league hockey in 2008. We haven’t
set cast yet…”
First of all, I'm not surprised that people think you're trying to rob a grave. In fact, I'm surprised people aren't accusing you of having relations with a corpse.

Problem with this, Peter, is that you can't do the humor the same way as you did in the 1970s, not without having a thousand different groups getting up in arms over being offended by the jokes anyhow. You can't replace that sort of humor with scat jokes and gross sight gags. You just can't do it.

Leaving well enough alone and letting some films stand alone as the tip of the cap to the era isn't good enough anymore and let's face it, some people are arrogant enough to believe that a remake can be as good or better than the original.

I'm still waiting for the first good remake to be made and I sincerely doubt this is going to be the one. Instead, a new generation will see this new movie and say its terrible. I can only hope that this generation of hockey fans will be smart enough to go looking for the original and then kick themselves for contributing any money towards helping to ruin more classic movies.

And to think, I was able to get through all of this without piling on the megabomb of the summer of 2008 that featured the Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup against the Kings with a Keebler Elf playing the part of the coach.

Screw off Hollywood - leave hockey alone already.

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