Film Review: The ‘Slap Shot’ Sequels (2002-2008)

Slap Shot (reviewed here) is one of the greatest comedies of all-time. It is also probably the greatest hockey movie of all-time. It certainly didn’t need sequels. But for some reason, twenty-five years later, we got Slap Shot 2 followed by Slap Shot 3. Here are my thoughts on those unnecessarily sequels.

Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice (2002):

Release Date: March 26th, 2002
Directed by: Steve Boyum
Written by: Broderick Miller
Based on: characters created by Nancy Dowd
Music by: John Frizzell
Cast: Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Jessica Steen, Callum Keith Rennie, David Hemmings, David Paetkau, Jonathan Scarfe, Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, David Hanson

Universal Pictures, 104 Minutes 

Review:

This film was a straight-to-video release, as it should have been. It also came out during the height of straight-to-video sequels of popular films. Historically, this formula led to a really shitty product. Straight-to-video movies were straight-to-video for a reason.

Somehow the Charlestown Chiefs still exist, without explanation, after they were sold and disbanded in the original Slap Shot, twenty-five years earlier. The Hanson Bros. still play on the team but other than them, these are all new characters.

The new cast is led by Stephen Baldwin, which should say a lot about the quality of this film. He’s never really been good in anything and it is no different here. He certainly can’t come close to filling the shoes of the legendary Paul Newman and it was a casting choice so poor, that the quality between Slap Shot and Slap Shot 2 is made very clear, just in watching the leads of the two films.

The only other noteworthy cast member is Gary Busey, who played an extreme right-wing television mogul who buys the Chiefs so that he can use them in a scripted hockey television show, where they are made to constantly lose and aren’t allowed to fight. The plot is bizarre and the idea of “family friendly” scripted hockey makes little sense in any situation. They try to sell it like the Harlem Globetrotters of hockey but the idea just doesn’t work and I’m not sure who would ever watch slapstick scripted hockey where the same team always wins. The Globetrotters are successful because of their skills displays and their storied legacy.

The Chiefs also have to wear different jerseys and different colors for the majority of the film, which doesn’t even make this movie feel connected to Slap Shot. The Hanson Bros., while featured a lot in the beginning, then disappear for the second half of the film until the very end.

All in all, it isn’t completely horrible. It was watchable enough for one viewing but I’ll never revisit it again.

The gay coach was fantastic, though. Actually, he was the best part of this whole film.

Rating: 3/10

Slap Shot 3: The Junior League (2008):

Release Date: November 25th, 2008
Directed by: Richard Martin
Written by: Brad Riddell
Based on: characters created by Nancy Dowd
Music by: Terry Frewer
Cast: Greyston Holt, Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, David Hanson, Lynda Boyd, Mark Messier, Doug Gilmour, Leslie Nielsen

Universal Pictures, 90 Minutes 

Review:

After the mess that was Slap Shot 2, they felt like they could milk the old cow one more time, thirty-one years after the original.

This film stars Leslie Nielsen but he’s barely in it. The Hanson Bros. are also back but they spend half the movie as peaceful zen monks who have sworn off their violent ways. Mark Messier shows up too, for some reason.

The plot revolves around a boys’ home that is ran by the boys, as the caretaker died or something. I don’t know if that was made clear in the film or not. Anyway, they have some plan to get good at hockey, beat the evil rival town junior team and somehow turn that into saving their town. The plot makes less sense than Slap Shot 2.

The Hanson Bros. eventually go back to normal but not until after they make the Junior Chiefs play hockey in zen-friendly kimonos. Yes, you read that right.

This is, quite simply, a pretty awful and boring movie. It is only worth watching for the Hanson Bros. material but there just isn’t enough of them to make it worthwhile and at the same time, they shouldn’t have to carry a film.

Rating: 2/10

Film Review: Slap Shot (1977)

Release Date: February 25th, 1977
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Written by: Nancy Dowd
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Paul Newman, Strother Martin, Michael Ontkean, Jennifer Warren, Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, David Hanson, Melinda Dillon

Pan Arts, Kings Road Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 123 Minutes 

slap_shotReview:

It’s almost the 40th anniversary of Slap Shot, so why not revisit it?

Slap Shot is what I consider to be the greatest hockey film of all-time. No, it is not a Disney family movie and it is crude, violent and often times profane. However it is also lovable, approachable and pretty much timeless. It also embodies the spirit of manliness and old school small town hockey unlike any other film. Albeit the more modern Goon has become a pretty close second.

This film has two great things going for it. First, it has Paul Newman in the lead role as an aging hockey player/coach that loves his team and his teammates as much as he loves the sport that pays his bills. Second, it has the violent iconic trio known as the Hanson Brothers, who are willing to take out any obstacle and pummel any opponent that gets in their way. The other characters are also equally awesome in their own ways and to be honest, this is the most entertaining sports team ever assembled on film.

The movie follows the Charlestown Chiefs, as they watch their town crumble after the closing of the local factory and the news that they are being sold and disbanded following the season. It is also a fight against the system and a fight for the sake of fighting in a world becoming neutered by political correctness. Additionally, it brings a bit of 70s era commentary on the aftermath of the free love movement and societal fears of homosexuality. It is a much more politically and socially conscious film than what it appears to be on the surface.

Slap Shot is also unique in the fact that this testosterone-fueled cinematic romp was written by a woman, Nancy Dowd. While that may seem odd, especially for the time, she did a more than spectacular job of capturing the essence of hockey and the thought process of manly men in a world changing around them. Dowd went on the be a writer for Saturday Night Live during its heyday. She also wrote several screenplays throughout the 70s and 80s – most notably Coming Home. She was also an uncredited contributor to the scripts of North Dallas Forty, Ordinary People and Cloak & Dagger.

The director of the film was George Roy Hill who won multiple Oscars throughout his career. His best-known pictures were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Great Waldo Pepper, A Little Romance and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He also did the critically-panned Chevy Chase film Funny Farm. Not really being nominated for anything for his work on Slap Shot, I feel like Hill got snubbed. While it wasn’t necessarily a “picture of the year” sort of movie, it has gone on to become much larger than a run of the mill cult classic.

Slap Shot is a glorious film representing a bygone era for the sport it is based on, as well as the culture of that time. Its message still rings true today and if anything, the underlying political and social current of the film still feels authentic and honest. Often times, comedy can make a point and hit a mark much more effectively than a dramatization. And despite all of that, it is still a thoroughly entertaining movie and a classic sports comedy unlike any other. Slap Shot is a unique gem of a film.