Slap Shot (1977)

Slap Shot out slaps... out swears... out laughs...

To build up attendance at their games, the management of a struggling minor-league hockey team signs up the Hanson Brothers, three hard-charging players whose job is to demolish the opposition.

Funny, cynical and irreverent.
Paul Newman is the coach of third rate failing minor league hockey team, The Charlestown Chiefs. The town is hit hard by unemployment and this appears to be the Chiefs' last season, however, if the coach can whip up the team up into a winning frenzy, then the unknown owner might just find a buyer and save all their carers? The management bring in three odd looking brothers who, once unleashed, take the whole team on a blood thirsty winning streak right to the championship final. The crowds flock in thirsting for more blood, but then the problems start to arise.
Slap Shot is a tremendously funny film, it's also incredibly violent and often vulgar in dialogue, but be sure to know that both things go hand in hand here (or should it be glove in glove?) to create one of the smartest sports pictures in the modern age. The hockey sequences are excellent (especially to a non fan like me), and the script bristles with course and biting humour. Slap Shot on its initial release was frowned upon by many critics, it was considered too profane and overly harsh with the win at all costs theme driving it forward. However, it's now rightly embraced as the smart and intelligent piece that director George Roy Hill wanted it to be seen as. A new generation of movie fans have started to seek it out and its reputation and fan base grows ever more larger by the year.
Newman was a bona fide star, his hair silver grey but his good looks still firmly intact, his performance has a grace about it that oddly sits nicely amongst this cynical stab at professional hockey; even if his characters' clothes are, in truth, icky. It would be a big disservice if I didn't mention the impact of the Hanson Brothers, surely one of the finest combinations to have ever graced a sports movie? They are at once unassumingly likable, the next gleefully violent, they are the glue that binds the whole picture together. Film is filled out with sparkling support work from the likes of Strother Martin, Michael Ontkean, Jennifer Warren, Lindsay Crouse and Jerry Houser.
Not long after originally writing this review, the legend that was Paul Newman sadly passed away, he left behind a movie legacy that few can touch, and trust me, this is one of them. A sports movie that never gets old and continues to pay off on repeat viewings. 8.5/10

Universal Pictures by George Roy Hill, Nancy Dowd.
Stars: Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin, Jennifer Warren.

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sport

Keywords: small town sports ice hockey team owner


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