But no sports film will ever be as good as Slap Shot

A recent article in the Guardian named, in the writer Scott Murray’s opinion, six of the worst sports movies of all time. In the comments section, which is no longer there, I added my own entry for worst sports movie.

Youngblood was a 1986 film in which Rob Lowe played an American hockey player who seeks to make his mark in Canadian junior hockey by joining the fictional Hamilton Mustangs. His friend and mentor is played by Patrick Swayze, who would go on to greater fame by being repeatedly name checked in the Trailer Park Boys.  In the film, Lowe is an excellent player who hasn’t learned that he will not become a true hockey star, and verily, a real man, until he has learned to pound the shit out of an opposing player. Will he be able to be a real man and will he bang the coach’s daughter? Well, yes on both counts.

As if that isn’t enough to recommend it, the film also features Keanu Reeves as a Québecois goalie with a h’outrageous h’accent.

No, it’s not a good film by any stretch but I caught it the other day on the unrequested cable channel Game TV.

You didn’t often see Canada playing Canada on film back in those days, even if it was presented as a kind of exile for Youngblood.  I think things are better now but when I was growing up, I always had it put in my head that that there wasn’t much to recommend English Canadian culture. I guess for that reason there wasn’t much effort put into producing it on a popular scale.

So when an American movie comes along with such acting greats as Lowe and Swayze, along with the luminescent Cynthia Gibb and it takes place right here in little ol’ Canada, well, that was a big deal. It’s funny that I thought that but there it is.  Seeing it for the first time in 22 years, I spent most of the movie picking out ephemera from Canada in the mid 1980’s: Player’s Light cigarette packs without big warnings, stubby necked Molson Export bottles, the old Loblaw’s font, bright orange Pizza Pizza boxes, etc, etc.

Today I think things are different in that English Canadian pop culture has found its audience (or perhaps the other way around). And while I disagree with defining Canadian as simply “not American,” it’s nice to see that we’ve gained the confidence to make our own dumb sports movies and not wait for Hollywood to come up and do it for us.


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