SlapshotSlap Shot (25th Anniversary Special Edition) (1977)
Slapshot is often described by its die-hard fans as "the hockey movie". Paul Newman and his Butch Cassidy director, George Roy Hill, made a very original comedy in this 1977 story of an over-the-hill player/coach (Newman) for a lousy hockey team who gets results when he teaches his players to get dirty. One of the most hilariously profane movies ever to come out of Hollywood, this is the kind of film that makes its own rules as it goes along. Newman is very good, and while Hill goes for the gusto in terms of capturing the violence of this world, his instinct for comedy has never been sharper. Great support from Strother Martin, Paul Dooley, and the rest.
The miracle about Miracle is that it gets so many details right in telling its 24-year-old story about the historic victory of the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Olympic Games. It's typical for Hollywood to compromise such period details as hairstyles and fashion when catering to a contemporary audience, but Miracle looks and feels right in every detail, capturing the downbeat mood of post-Watergate America while showing how obsessively determined Minnesota hockey coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) managed to assemble a once-in-a-lifetime team and whip them into a victorious frenzy over their Soviet champion opponents. With sharp support from Patricia Clarkson (as Brooks's wife) and Noah Emmerich (as his long-suffering assistant), Russell grounds the film with a well-balanced combination of aloofness, intimidation, and closely guarded strategy. No doubt the real Brooks (who died in a car accident shortly after filming completed) would have approved. Thanks to director Gavin O'Connor (Tumbleweeds) and the producers of the similarly laudable sports films Remember the Titans and The Rookie, Miracle brings plenty of heart - and historical accuracy - to an old, familiar formula.
Handsome young men whack each other in the face with sticks and learn about life in this enjoyably silly hockey movie. Rob Lowe stars as Dean Youngblood, an American rookie who's been given a shot on a Canadian Junior League hockey team. Sure, he can skate, but can he take a punch? This coming-of-age story is about learning the beauty of vicious hockey fights. No, really. Containing both young-bucks-in-the-locker-room shots and plenty of hockey violence, Youngblood is a surprisingly entertaining cupcake of a movie--there's not much nourishment, but it sure tastes good. Watch for Patrick Swayze as the team's leader and Keanu Reeves in his first film role as the French-Canadian goalie. The DVD's most entertaining feature is the option of watching Youngblood dubbed into French--not to be missed.
The Mighty DucksThe Mighty Ducks (1992)
Disney had an unexpected hit with this predictable comedy about a smug lawyer (Emilio Estevez) busted for drunk driving and ordered to coach a sad-sack team of hockey-playing kids as community service. The kids triumph over their sundry problems, and Estevez's character grows up a little. End of story. A perfectly harmless movie for kids and adults who are giving their brains a night off. (Mighty Ducks Box Set)
D2: The Mighty DucksD2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)
This follow-up to the surprise Disney hit about a hockey team of misfits brings Emilio Estevez back to the role of the kids' yuppie coach. This time, Estevez assimilates his Ducks into the higher-stakes Team USA in the Junior Goodwill Games, an opportunity that could bring fame and money. Entirely perfunctory, this sequel is basically an excuse to revisit the eccentricities of some of the younger characters, extend some of their conflicts into adolescence, and showcase their allegedly entertaining but ethically dubious abilities on the ice. Estevez is okay, but even he had enough after this movie. (Mighty Ducks Box Set)
D3: The Mighty DucksD3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)
Emilio Estevez and the original Ducks are back in this fast-moving comedy starring the most popular hockey team in movie history! After the Ducks win scholarships to a snooty private school, Coach Bombay (Estevez) announces that he's moving on to greener pastures with the Goodwill Games. Shortly after the team arrives at Eden Hall Academy, they inherit a new coach who turns out to be their worst nightmare when he strips Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) of his position as captain! Then, with their scholarships on the line, they face their toughest rival -- the 10-time championship varsity team! The Ducks and their opponents engage in a series of hilarious pranks to warm up for their battle on the ice. And in a thrilling and climactic third-period battle, the Ducks must prove why they are called the Mighty Ducks! "The quack attack is back!" (USA Today) -- and D3 will have you and your family cheering! (Mighty Ducks Box Set)
Mystery, AlaskaMystery, Alaska (1999)
When it comes to the subject of community, David E. Kelley--the prolific writer-producer behind television's The Practice and Ally McBeal--falls somewhere on a continuum between directors Howard Hawks and Robert Benton. While Hawks's professional characters are bound by a knowledge of how to do what they do even if they don't know why, Benton's people, professional or not, have long ago substituted their own eccentric reasons for that elusive why. Thus we get the kind of in-house, oddball rituals sandwiched between passages of actual work on Ally, and the affectionately entangled personal and professional ties between small-town folks in Kelley's earlier TV series Picket Fences.