Sport/Comedy, 92 Minutes, 2011
I’m a fat guy. I spent my high-school days reading comic books and watching “Star Trek” while not being invited to parties. I never got along all that well with the jocks and sometimes really didn’t get along with them. “Battlebots” may be the closest thing to a sport that I’ve ever followed. In spite of all of that I love sports movies.
Not all of them, of course, but the anthem movies – the under-dog / come from behind / fuck-ups-make-good movies – I adore those. Actual sports are overly complicated, overly commercialize, they often make superstars of despicable people. Also the time you have to invest is insane! Movies are simple, direct and give you honest heroes; and all in a couple of hours tops!
For what it’s worth: if I were to suddenly want to get into sports I think that hockey would probably be my choice. It’s big enough to really sink your teeth into but still small enough that money hasn’t been able to completely ruin it. It’s fast and relatively simple compared to the three big balls (“foot”, “base” and “basket” in case you don’t know). This movie celebrates hockey, specifically one of the more unsavory (but iconic) aspects of it.
Hockey is a physical game and fights are common. To balance overzealous or underhanded physicality most teams employ an unofficial enforcer, or “goon”, whose primary job is – to put it in technical terms – kick the living shit out of opposing players that cross the line. Goons aren’t expected to be great players; they’re expected to kick ass and protect their teammates. Here we have Doug (Seann William Scott [IMDB]), a sweetly dim-witted bouncer, who impresses a minor league hockey coach enough to be given a shot as an enforcer.
The movie runs through the normal paces. There’s no surprises and you don’t want there to be. Doug struggles to gain the respect of his family and of his team of misfits, he finds love, meets his nemesis and overcomes incredible odds. His team, of course, begins at the bottom and, by the end, is in some kind of championship game in which he plays a pivotal role. It’s exactly what you’d expect and as well done as you could hope.
It is rather brutal and, forgive the cliché, doesn’t pull any punches. The fights are long, detailed and graphic. Nothing is sugar-coated. There’s a case to be made that it glorifies what some consider the worst possible aspect of hockey. “Miracle” [IMDB] this is not. Whatever your personal opinion of professional goons may be there’s no denying that this movie comes from a place of love and respect for the sport.
This is a feel good sports movie – the male equivalent of a chick-flick. You don’t take it seriously and it keeps up its end by making sure everybody we like gets a chance to do whatever they need to do. It’s predictable and one-dimensional and that doesn’t matter because it’s also well-paced and a hell of a lot of fun. There are few enough hockey movies to begin with and even fewer that are actually good. This one definitely sits comfortably amongst the best of them.