July 17, 2012

Slap Shot

Paul Newman plays an aging hockey star who tries to save his languishing team, the Chiefs, by turning the games into sideshows, full of violent fight scenes. It works: the has-been Chiefs re-invent the sport's appeal with their apish antics. Newman sells the material, but it's still not sustainable for two hours. Slap Shot is lewd and loud and full of people behaving violently "funny," and it's amusing seeing Newman in what is probably his dirtiest movie role, but the results are uneven. You laugh a little, but in between the sporadic bits of comedy that really work is a movie that tries way too hard. It's often dull and uninvolving. George Roy Hill's laid-back directing style doesn't do the film any favors. The finale is admittedly wonderfully irreverent, making fun of the macho jock mentality of sports, the public, everybody. Written by Nancy Dowd. Michael Ontkean makes a promising debut (not his first movie, but his first big movie role) as one of Newman's fellow players, who's turned off by all the publicity mongering, and Strother Martin has some funny moments as the team's manager. With Melinda Dillon, Lindsay Crouse as Ontkean's wife, Jennifer Warren as Newman's wife, Jerry Houser, Andrew Duncan, Swoosie Kurtz, and M. Emmet Walsh. 1977.

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