Slap Shot (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's words in white:

It's a Paul Newman middle aged jock movie. I knew I was old when I was discussing movies with some 25 year old intellectuals, and they said, in effect "the Coen brothers are so good, they even made Paul Newman seem good in Hudsucker Proxy."

Shit, I always thought Paul Newman was kinda cool, and then I realized he was the very living symbol of doddering incompetence for the next generation. Well, I still like him.

The movie is "Slap Shot", a George Roy Hill movie about minor league hockey. It was an easy watch, with some sharp humor, and nothing to say other than to notice the convergence of professional wrestling and ice hockey as sporting events, and I guess that point is a little less dramatic since Gretzky and the Europeans started introducing more of a finesse game. But what do I know about hockey? The movie is Bull Durham on skates. If you liked one, you'll probably like the other, assuming you like hockey.

For guys, it's basically the same movie and just as good as Bull Durham, but it's lower on the totem pole in terms of crossover. Bull Durham is a general mass-audience flick, and women love it as much as men - a "B" by our definition. Slap Shot is a guy thing. Bull Durham appeals uniformly across the board, while Slap Shot's appeal weakens among all women, and the film is not popular at all with young women. I guess this is because Bull Durham transcends the testosterone factor of sports movies, while Slap Shot does not.

  Bull Durham Slap Shot
women 30+ 7.2 6.9
women under 30 7.2 5.8
men 7.2 7.2


The exposure (breasts) is from Melinda Dillon, who plays the estranged wife of a hockey player who ends up in bed with Newman in a dark scene.

Tuna's words in yellow:

Slap Shot (1977) is the third film Paul Newman did with George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting were the first two). Newman is a player-coach of the worst minor league hockey team in the league. He is simultaneously trying to get back with his estranged wife, seduce the wife of his best player, and find a way to make his team win. The pressure increases when the town mill closes, and it is announced that the team will be disbanded at the end of the season. He discovers that overly physical play not only pleases fans, but wins games. He also starts a rumor that the team will be sold to a group of investors hoping that it will come true.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Commentary by the Hanson brothers

  • The Hanson brothers classic scenes

  • Puck talk with the Hansons

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

This is not so much a film about hockey as it is about hockey players. It was written by Nancy Dowd (her first) and is based on conversations with her brother who was a professional hockey player. She traveled with his team, and he taped real locker room and bus conversations so she could make the film realistic. In fact, there was some criticism of the rough language in the film. Newman, who played amateur hockey, did nearly all of his own skating, only bringing in a double for some fancy stick work that was beyond his ability. Supporting actor Michael Ontkean actually played minor league hockey.

On one level, this film is mostly fun and has some hilarious moments, but it also speaks to the controversy over whether or not violence has a place in hockey. Most people, including me, like this film. IMDB readers rate it 7.1 of 10. The 25th anniversary DVD just released is a very nice Widescreen transfer loaded with special features.  

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: domestic gross $28 million


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is at least a B. You don't have to like hockey, and there is enough action for those who don't usually like comedy. (Scoop says: C+. Bull Durham is a movie for everyone, a B. Slap Shot is for guys.)

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