Located in the US Rust Belt, Charlestown is home of the hapless Chiefs, a losing Federal League hockey team whose games are poorly attended. To make money, the team's unknown owner makes its manager, Joe McGrath, do cheesy publicity much to the players' chagrin. Rumors abound among the players that if the local mill closes, the team will fold. Just before the official announcement is made, the team's aging player/coach, Reggie Dunlop, does get wind that the mill is indeed closing and that this season will be the team's last. Beyond efforts to reconcile with his wife Francine, who loves Reggie but doesn't love his career, Reggie begins to focus on how to renew interest in the team for a possible sale as he knows if the team folds, his hockey career is over. Without telling anyone of his plan, he begins a rumor that the owner is negotiating a sale with a city in Florida. He also decides that "goon" hockey - most especially using the untapped talents of the recently acquired childlike ... Written by
Although much of the movie takes place during the fall and winter seasons, when hockey is in season, filming at the Utica Memorial Auditorium took place during the month of June 3rd-4th Similarly, in Johnstown, Paul Newman is wearing a coat as though it should be cold, but there is no snow on the ground and the trees are in full bloom. See more »
During the opening hockey game sequence, when the drunk player on the opposing team gets checked into the boards, the players on the Chiefs bench laugh at him. There is one player on the Chiefs bench though who never appears in the movie again, and appears only for that one single shot in the film. See more »
[at the Chiefs Fashion Show]
I'm gonna flash' em, Joe!
No, you're not.
I'm gonna walk down that stinkin' runway, open up this faggot robe and wiggle my dick at 'em! And do you know why? Because I want you to have a heart-attack and die so we don't have to do this shit again! You and your fucking fashion shows!
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Special thanks to John Mitchell and his Johnstown Jets. See more »
The ultimate hockey film, a resounding success as both drama and comedy
Despite a dismissive response from critics on release, "Slap Shot" has become THE hockey film everyone knows and loves, and it's easy to see why. It's also easy to understand its initial reception. The film is perhaps excessively profane, it doesn't really seem so today but taken in the context of the time one could easily see it as straining for shock value. Paul Newman's least classy role for sure, and George Roy Hill had made some big movies before this one.
Of course there are still plenty of people who accuse this of being vulgar, crass, cartoony trash. The comedy is, sure. But it's also good at being what it is in that regard. Kevin Smith is making a hockey movie about the goon era of hockey based on the Warren Zevon song "Hit Somebody!". If that isn't a rehash of "Slap Shot" I'll eat my hat. The humor is pretty much exactly Smith's style. I expect far more sentimentality from him than "Slap Shot" offers, though. Still, it's GOOD lowbrow humor, with the occasional clever bit that keeps it afloat. Incredibly sharp, memorable dialogue as well.
But what really sets "Slap Shot" apart from most sports flicks to me isn't the comedy, it's the drama. The characters are convincingly-drawn, even the ones which exist purely for comic relief. Nancy Dowd was a good writer and George Roy Hill was a great director. Together they found a perfect balance. Sure, you can watch this movie and laugh and get wasted with your buddies after a hockey game one night, but there's so much more to it. I find it works remarkably well as an examination of the society and community which the sport creates, and which lives around it. The portrayal of marital strife and a town in the midst of economic meltdown is tremendously affecting, the character's relationships and Reggie's story being the film's greatest achievement.
It's also a great examination of hockey, a sophisticated debate over what hockey is or should be. A recent survey found 99.5% of NHL players were in favor of keeping fighting in the game, but that's to the extent that it exists today. How many would want the goon era back? There are still people who 'watch hockey for the fights', "Slap Shot" seems to acknowledge that the goon era reduced hockey to nothing more than a freakshow. The WWE on ice. Don't get me wrong, I'll jump out of my seat with the rest of the crowd if a fight breaks out, but never have cared for hockey as played during the 70's in the US, with violence as the main attraction. The movie does away with the verbal arguments about the nobility of the sport for a comic finale, but even that makes its point quite clear. The very last scene of the film, the ambiguous ending, is even greater.
Great director, great cast, great writing. That's the recipe for a great movie. "Slap Shot" most certainly is one. Gene Siskel's biggest regret as a film critic was giving this a mediocre review on release, as he came to absolutely adore the film on repeat viewings. I think it's easy to mistake this for just another sports comedy, but there's so much more to it, and if you can't see that... well, I feel sorry for you, but to each their own.
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