GEORGE ROY HILL’S SLAP SHOT — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

2

One of the funniest movies ever made. I also played hockey for 15 years so that might have something to do with my obsession over this film. The screenplay is absolutely genius, operating as both brilliant sports satire and multi-pronged buddy film within the context of the underdog narrative. Every single laugh is either born out of character traits and personality or because of the organic quality of the plotting. Nothing is forced in Slap Shot, with George Roy Hill’s smooth yet rough-house direction somehow being a perfect match with the extraordinarily vulgar screenplay by Nancy Dowd, who also wrote Hal Ashby’s tragic Vietnam drama Coming Home. Everything about Slap Shot is note-perfect, from how astute it is about the game it so lovingly showcases, to every single performance, both big and small, nuanced and over the top. Paul Newman was perfectly cast as the broken-down player-coach, and would go on record as saying that making Slap Shot was one of the most fun times he ever had shooting a film. Michael Ontkean was so damn good, all rugged charm and sweaty-macho posturing, with serious ice-hockey skills to match his roguish on-screen aura. The prolific and amazing cinematographer Victor J. Kemper knew precisely how to frame all of the on-ice action so that every shot, every face-off, every goal scored felt believable and true to the sport. The Hanson brothers inject serious idiocy into the proceedings, with the various brawls that they instigate resulting in huge laughs. The final sequence is an all-timer, and honestly, there isn’t one thing about this movie on a creative level that I don’t agree with or love.

3

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