Having just seen "The Love Guru," the new Mike Myers comedy with a story that centers around hockey, I can confirm it won't be remembered as one of the greatest movies to make the sport a key part of its plot.
That's not to say I didn't laugh. Quite a few times, actually. If you're a fan of scatological, juvenile, acronym-heavy humor -- and if you really love Myers making cutesy faces to the camera -- you'll definitely enjoy "The Love Guru."
(Oh, and if you're wondering what it will take for Myers' beloved Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup, you'll finally have your answer. Without moving into spoiler territory, let's just say it involves two elephants and a decidedly, er, romantic moment.)
However, if you're going to the movies in anticipation of a new way Hollywood depicts hockey, you're bound to be a little disappointed. Sure, there are a bunch of inside jokes more savvy NHL fans are bound to clue into -- such as the cantankerous Leafs owner "Hank Bullard" -- but the game is more secondary to the film than advertisements may lead you to believe.
For that reason, "The Love Guru" fails to qualify for my list of Top 5 all-time favorite hockey movies -- or my list of the five worst, for that matter.
What films do make those lists, I'm hoping you ask? Here's my answer:
The Top Five Best Hockey Films Ever Made (in reverse order)
5. "Sudden Death"
I know, I know -- it's got Jean Claude Van Damme as its star, and features some of the most reality-deprived, unintentionally hilarious action sequences in film history. But check out the cast list from "Sudden Death": Mike Lange, Luc Robitaille, Markus Naslund, Bernie Nicholls, and, in a cameo as Player No. 2, Pat Brisson -- a.k.a. Sidney Crosby's agent. That's easily the most subsequently successful cast of real-life hockey types to appear in a single film, which is the difference between this being the fifth-best hockey film and the fifth-worst.
4. "Bon Cop, Bad Cop"
Like "The Love Guru," this French-Canadian created flick uses hockey as a relatively peripheral plot advancer. But the jokes here have far more bite and satirical edge to them, injecting a lot of life into the otherwise tired "mismatched police partners" genre.
I'll maintain that Kurt Russell's greatest role was Snake Plissken in "Escape From New York" until the day I die, but a close second was his stunning portrayal of late U.S. Olympic team (and NHL) coach Herb Brooks in the tale of America's 1980 Olympic gold medal. It's worth seeing for him alone, but there's much more to like where that came from.
2. "Les Chiefs"
This documentary on a goon-infested, semi-pro league in Quebec has a bit of everything moviegoers are looking for -- drama, laughs, even a few tears. Highly, highly recommended.
1. "Slap Shot"
If I have to convince you why this is the greatest hockey movie of all time, you're either six years old or you've lived your entire life in a jungle-type region below the equator. Paul Newman has made some unbelievably great films over the course of his career, but he'll always be Reg Dunlop to me.
The Top Five Worst Hockey Films Ever Made (in reverse order)
The acting performances in this 1986 movie are more wooden even some 22 years later; and any movie that foreshadowed the dramatic contributions that would be made by Rob Lowe, Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze is a cautionary tale for all casting agents. In fairness, any movie with the line "Go hump your St. Bernard" in it can't be all bad.
4. "National Lampoon's Pucked"
I watched this straight-to-DVD monstrosity on a dare -- and now I wish I had just lived with the shame of not accepting the dare instead. The group of producers who thought the world was ready to see Jon Bon Jovi and David "Bud Bundy from 'Married With Children'" Faustino star in a tale of a burnt-out loser (Bon Jovi) who decides to start up a women's hockey league after he fraudulently applies for, and receives, credit cards in the mail (!!!) ought to be tied down and forced to listen to "You Give Love A Bad Name" until their ears bleed. There's only one real hockey scene in the film, but just the fact the game was remotely associated with this disgrace puts it on my list.
3. Any sequel to "The Mighty Ducks"
I wasn't really a fan of Disney's first foray into hockey movies, but all three follow-ups ("D2: The Mighty Ducks," "D3: The Mighty Ducks," and "Mighty Ducks the Movie: The First Face-Off") represent the most callous, contrived, opportunistic side of the moviemaking business -- and the worst sequels ever made outside of "Speed 2: Cruise Control" and "Blues Brothers 2000."
2. "Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice"
Did I say "The Mighty Ducks" sequels were the worst ever made? I must've intentionally blacked out my viewing experience of "Slap Shot 2." I certainly can't blame me, because from its ham-handed dialogue to the fact its biggest stars were the third-worst Baldwin brother and Gary Freakin' Busey, this repellent movie truly is a 96-minute affront to virtually every redeeming quality of humankind.
1. "Most Valuable Primate"
There is nothing lower on my scale of awful clichés than movies that substitute animals for real humans in real situations, and this combines that lame-ism with hockey. The kind of film that makes you wish Noah was a wee bit choosier when he was filling his Ark, "MVP" brought me closer to an impromptu self-performed lobotomy than I ever hoped to be.
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