It’s nearly Academy Awards time, which means that it’s time to think about a genre of cinema that’s truly given us some of the seminal classics of our time. And when you’re finished thinking about sweeping historical wartime epics, why not spend another 15-18 seconds considering hockey movies, won't you?
Yes, hockey movies, of which there are several besides “Slap Shot”. Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated listed his top five and bottom five (or so) of all-time this week. And just like revealing that Cobie Smulders is actually a ghost in “Safe Haven”*, we’ll just go ahead and spoil the list for you:
5. Mystery, Alaska (1999)
4. The Rocket (2005)
3. The Deadliest Season (1977)
2. Goon (2011)
1. Slap Shot (1977)
Great to see the love for “Goon”, which captures the pro hockey experience in some ways even better than “Slap Shot” did. (Although there’s no touching the latter film’s characters, heart and raucous spirit.)
Obviously, the biggest omission here is “Miracle”, which features an honest-to-goodness Oscar nomination worthy performance from Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks. But I haven’t seen “The Deadliest Season”, so I can’t protest too much, except to say that I’d still slot "Miracle" ahead of “Mystery, Alaska”, which has more slow moments than Hal Gill.
Perhaps you feel another film was snubbed. Say, like, “The Mighty Ducks” or “Youngblood”. Well, they weren’t exactly snubbed. They just ended up on another less laudatory list.
From SI.com and Muir, and our defense of each cinematic classic they’ve chosen malign:
5. MVP: Most Valuable Primate (2000)
This is an easy target for the haughty critics that fail to appreciate what a badass Jack the Chimp was. Look at him trolling the bench of the faux-Los Angeles Kings! Look at him hitting the organist in the head with a puck, as dancing monkeys have dreamed of doing for generations! But most of all: HE’S WEARING NO. 99 AND IT’S BEEN RETIRED FROM THE EARTH.
4. Any Mighty Ducks movie (1992-97)
This really isn’t fair. The original “The Mighty Ducks” is, for a certain generation, every bit as beloved and influential as “The Bad News Bears” if woefully less vulgar. As for the full trilogy, we’ll refer you to BuzzFeed’s 33 reasons why “The Mighty Ducks” franchise is the greatest of all time.
Also, please keep in mind the “D2” poster makes Emilio Estevez look like he has bubblegum testicles.
(We’d also offer that Muir strangely decided to group in the animated “Mighty Ducks” film with the live action ones, which is a bit like saying the original “Star Wars” trilogy should be knocked down several pegs because the Ewok cartoon was balls.)
3. Youngblood (1986)
Muir evidently isn’t a fan of the fact this movie was on VERSUS every 20 minutes back in the day. But it’s so incredibly far from “worst” status that it’s equally maddening that this made the cut.
"Youngblood," which ranks No. 57 on the list for the unintentional comedy more than anything else. I mean, have you SEEN Rob Lowe skate? It's like the producers asked Lowe's agent before filming, "We're ready to make the deal, but just to make sure, you're sure Rob can skate, right?," and Lowe's agent told them, "Oh, yeah, he's like lightning out there!," then hung up and quickly speed-dialed the nearest skating coach. More importantly, have you SEEN Rob Lowe fight? He couldn't even beat up Andrew McCarthy in "Class," and we were supposed to believe he could knock out the toughest enforcer in the Canadian Hockey League? Everything considered, Lowe was slightly more believable than Michael J. Fox in "Teen Wolf," not quite as believable as Tim Robbins in "Bull Durham," and right on par with the kid from "Rookie of the Year" throwing 143 miles-an-hour.
But here's the thing about Lowe: He was a decent actor, women loved him, and he had a pretty good run there in the mid-80's, pumping out "The Outsiders", "Class", "Oxford Blues", "St. Elmo's Fire", "Youngblood" and "About Last Night" in a five-year span. Sure, it's not up there with Eddie Murphy from 1982 to 1987, or even Ginger Lynn from 1984 through 1988, but it's impressive nontheless. Stick him in a sports movie, shoot all the hockey scenes in slow motion, have him win a few games AND bag the coach's daughter, and you're probably in good shape. Nearly 20 years later, the movie still holds up ... although not for all the reasons that they originally intended. But still, it holds up.
Indeed it does. And it has this mask.
2. Slap Shot 3 (2008)
It’s not so much that “Slap Shot 3” is a good movie, because it isn’t. It’s that “Slap Shot 2” is an atrocious abortion of cinema and an affront to hockey, entertainment and humanity. Despite the presence of Gary Busey.
And finally …
1. “The Love Guru” (2008)
HEY MUIR HOW DARE YOU BESMIRCH THE GOOD NAME oh we can’t even pretend this movie doesn’t stink like a dog’s ass wrapped in a hockey gear bag.
Mike Myers’ valentine to hockey and spiritual self-improvement was gigantic bomb that couldn’t even get the hockey right.
Kudos on nailing No. 1. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ll go back to wondering how “Sudden Death” missing out on either of these lists …
* Oh, pipe down. “Safe Haven” was published in Sept. 2010. Also, spoiling a Nicholas Sparks movie is God’s work.