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Torturous Film Reviewed: Slap Shot 2

Hearing there's a "Goon 2" in the works, one man tortures himself and sits through the abject horror known as "Slap Shot 2."

Bruce Bennett

I'm not new to movie reviews here at LHH. Last time we looked at Goon starring Sean William Scott. If you for some reason still haven't seen it, you're missing out on one of the best hockey movies to come around in a while.

Speaking of which, Goon director Jay Baruchel announced that Goon 2 is in the works. That of course got me to thinking about the sequel, Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice.

I don't think there are words to convey how horrible Slap Shot 2 is. It makes Caddyshack 2 (another much-derided sequel) look like a work of genius. Not only does Slap Shot 2 hold a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but a quick search of the popular torrent site Pirate Bay shows that no one is even bothering to pirate the movie. While I have a love of bad movies, this is pretty much unwatchable.

Right off the bat, the cover to the DVD and VHS both prominently feature Stephen Baldwin and the Hanson Brothers. Also getting top billing is Gary Busey. Just digest those last two setences for a moment.

While Baldwin is prominent in the movie, if Busey and the Hansons combined for more then 15 minutes of screen time (100 minute running time) I'd be shocked.

I know, let's get a Disney director to sequel the best hockey movie ever made.

Then there's the director, Steve Boyum. I would have loved to be in the meeting when they decided that Boyum was the kind of director needed for a hockey movie. His four previous films were Johnny Tsunami, Stepsister From Planet Weird, Mom's Got A Date With A Vampire and Motocrossed. If any of those films sound familiar, then you were a child in the early '00s who loved the Disney Channel, or had one.

Yes, a guy who was on a run of four straight Disney Channel Original Movies was an excellent choice to make the sequel to the most famous hockey movie of all.

Most likely he wasn't helped by the writing of Broderick Miller. Miller's one big movie was the HBO Film Wedlock, which came out in 1991. I've read somewhere that Miller was inspired by the Fox Glowing Puck to make a movie about the over-commercialization of the sport. Unfortunately by the time the movie was released to DVD the glow puck was long dead, and the message of commercialization is seemingly lost in the movie.

Hansons: At least they look happy to be here

A movie, by the way, which is populated by the most cardboard 2D caricatures and people doing a poor impression of someone from the original Slap Shot. I don't think it's Stephen Baldwin's fault that he has none of the charisma or likability of Paul Newman. But it doesn't seem like he's even trying here. At least the Hansons seem happy to have the acting work.

The movie begins with a game between the Johnston Chiefs and Albany Dogs of the Federal League. That's right, despite how the last movie finished off, the Chiefs are still around 25 years later and so is the Federal League. Also still on the roster are the Hanson brothers. The Chiefs are losing badly in the 3rd and decide to put the Hansons on the ice to do their thing.

In Slap Shot, the first time the Hansons take the ice it's one of the most memorable single shifts in hockey movie history. In Slap Shot 2, the Hansons proceed to attack and tear the costume head off of one of the other teams mascots. A scene which was plastered all over the trailers and even the back of the VHS box. Not surprisingly, the team loses the game and heads home.

This is where they pretend there's a plot.

Baldwin finds out that the team has been sold and is moving to Omaha, Nebraska. They also have a new coach, Jessica Steen, who I actually remember from the short lived ABC series "Earth 2." Of course Baldwin tries to hit on her the night before he finds out she's the coach, and she gives him a black eye. We also find out that the Chiefs have won a total of 10 games over the last two years.

The team has been sold, but the players are all being kept and will be paid out double what they are currently getting paid. One of the aspects of the deal was that Baldwin was going to be replaced as coach (but kept as a player) by Steen. Steen proceeds to win over the team somewhat by skating circles around its best player. Not that it says much, considering the team has 10 wins in two seasons.

It ends up that Steen is the granddaughter of an NHL great and wants a chance at coaching. While the Chiefs are told they are going to play exhibition games in which they are to play Washington Generals to an ice hockey version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Steen though has in her contract that half of the games will be real games giving her a chance to coach.

The person that bought the Chiefs was Gary Busey, who runs a family-first organization. He was horrified at the amount of violence he saw at a game and wants to start his own league with family-friendly hockey. The Chiefs are re-christened the Super Chiefs (which raises the question of why they needed to buy the Chiefs considering they also give them new jerseys) and will be playing against the Omaha Ice Breakers.

The Ice Breakers are a team of hand-picked Ivy League hockey players who are going to be the equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters. Now, the coach of the Ice Breakers is another story: He's a Broadway director and the actor appears to be channeling the spirit of Johnathon Harris (aka Dr. Smith from Lost in Space) in his performance.

The Chiefs aren't exactly behind the changes and end up in a fight with the Ice Breakers during the first practice. Following that practice the Hansons are fired from the team. Baldwin complains to Busey, who basically tells him that money is no object. The players will have their salaries doubled again and Baldwin will get a bonus if he can get the rest of the team to go along with the act.

Steen finally admits that she wants to coach in the NHL, and is hoping that the real games will give her a chance to showcase her ability. Of course she admits this to Baldwin, who knows that Busey has no plans to allow real hockey games to take place. Once the money starts rolling in for the Super Chiefs, most of them are more than happy to go along with the act. Baldwin's conscious starts getting to him though.

More pretense of a "plot"

In one of the more confusing scenes in the movie, Busey decides he wants to get rid of the Super Chiefs following the televised match. But since they have long term contracts, he for some reason gives power of attorney to his assistant. Can you say foreshadowing? At the same time I have to mention that apparently Baldwin missed a game-tying (or winning?) shot with a wide open net in game 7 of the finals. This too might be foreshadowing.

Baldwin is eventually given half a million dollars from Busey to convince the rest of the Chiefs of how good they have it, and then leave the team. (Another point I've forgotten is that during the whole movie Baldwin keeps getting calls from debt collection agencies. So he needs the money, badly.) Barry Melrose and Chris Chelios have cameos on some sports show bashing the Chiefs for what they are doing, and Baldwin has a sudden change of heart.

At the big televised game the movie has been building towards, Baldwin returns during the halftime break. You see the league has also changed the format of the game from three 20-minute periods to two 20-minute periods. Baldwin returns with the Hanson Brothers, who have won the lottery. They have brought back the old Chiefs jerseys and are ready to play real hockey against the Ice Breakers.

The scene the whole movie has been building toward

The Hansons get a few flashes of ice time in which they destroy the kids, and after trading goals back and forth to make it 2-2, it seems to fast-forward to the last minute of play. With the clock stopped at 29.8 seconds and a faceoff in the offensive zone, Coach Steen finally gets a chance to show her hockey chops. Will it be a brilliant play? A shuffling of the lines? Anything interesting? Nope, Coach Steen tells them, and I quote "... win the draw, crash the net, score a fucking goal, I wanna beat these guys."

How she hasn't made an NHL staff at this point is beyond me.

So of course the Chiefs lose the faceoff, the Ice Breakers get a breakaway and for what seems like the first time in the movie the goalie makes a save. The Chiefs charge back, and surprise surprise, Baldwin finds himself in the same position as that game 7 missed goal. This time though he hits the back of the net. I guess I can give the movie some credit for not having a penalty shot ending to the game.

The Chiefs win and Busey is ready to fire them, until everyone calls him a genius for changing the ending of the game. But remember when Busey gave his assistant power of attorney? Well he sold the Chiefs to the Hanson brothers. So the Chiefs are going back to Charlestown and are going to play old time hockey.

So many plot holes in this movie. Among them:

  • Why exactly did Busey have to give power of attorney to his assistant in order to buy out contracts?
  • If your offended by violence in hockey, why buy a team whose survival is solely because they are the biggest goons in the league?
  • It's also pretty obvious that none of the Chiefs are going to make the NHL, and considering the pay in low league pro-hockey this gig should be heaven. If it really is all that embarrassing to lose in a staged exhibition, why are there still people willing to play for the Washington Generals?
  • Didn't Slap Shot end with the Chiefs going defunct?

Then there's the fact that there are dozens of woman's college programs that Steen could be coaching. Also at the time that this came out in 2002, the National Women's Hockey League had already been in existence for three years, and it continues today as the Canadian Women's Hockey League. Of course you wouldn't have a story then, but that would make more sense than trying to get exposure coaching the Chiefs.

A lot of the blame doesn't fall on the actors though. You see, this was originally just a hockey movie called "Breaking The Ice." The studio decided to get a few extra bucks out of the movie by putting the Slap Shot name on it and shoehorning in the Hanson Brothers. The hockey scenes aren't long enough, and the scenes away from the Ice are even worse.

In another nonsensical point, while the Chiefs aren't allowed to touch the Ice Breakers, the IB's continually cheap shot the Chiefs through the whole movie. Even when the Chiefs are more then willing to go along with the act. Busey and his cronies never raise a complaint about the antics of the Breakers, but the second the Chiefs fight back it's all on the Chiefs.

There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie. I feel bad for fans of the original Slap Shot or fans of the Hansons that picked this up on a whim. I think it's rather possible that the Hansons have more lines in the original Slap Shot than this movie. I can't recommend this movie to anyone.

The only good thing about it is that the studio made a third sequel, The Junior Leagues. That film is actually more of a homage to the original movie, has a lot more of the Hansons, and is at least enjoyable. If you had a young kid and didn't want to ruin him by letting him watch Slap Shot, Junior Leagues would be a good replacement.

But Slap Shot 2? No, not so much.