Slap Shot

1977, Movie, R, 123 mins


Funny, frank, and violent, George Roy Hill's absorbing film about minor league hockey offers a wonderful comic performance from Newman as the aging player-coach of the Charleston Chiefs. Mired in a long losing streak and deserted by their fans, the Chiefs learn that the franchise is to fold at the end of the season because the steel mill that employs most of their Pennsylvania town's populace is closing. Refusing to give up, Newman encourages his team in no-holds-barred play. Surprisingly, three recently acquired, bespectacled brothers (Carlson, Carlson, and Hanson) prove to be the ultimate monsters of high-sticking mayhem, leading the Chiefs to victory after violent victory and filling the stands. This doesn't sit well with leading scorer Ontkean, a Princeton grad committed to "old-fashioned" hockey. Meanwhile, Newman plants stories that the Chiefs' unknown owner is negotiating to sell the club and tries to reconcile with his beautician-wife, Warren. The team is destined to become a tax write-off, but with pride on the line, they take on a club composed of the league's roughest players for the championship--a game with a bizarre finish unlike that of any other sports film. Upon its release, SLAP SHOT gained instant notoriety for its locker-room language, which may offend some but is perfect for its milieu. In fact, screenwriter Dowd based the diction on tape recordings her brother, a minor league hockey player, made in the locker room and on the team bus. In addition to Newman's masterful work, the film includes excellent supporting performances by Martin as the Chiefs' general manager, Duncan as a sportscaster, and Crouse as Ontkean's most unhappy wife. The on-ice violence is hyperreal, the emotions believable, and the laughs plentiful in this slightly off-the-wall comedy. leave a comment

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