[Editor’s Note: To the delight of all, my good buddy Matt of Sardonic Shadow Designs (and fellow bad movie buff) hops into the reviewer’s chair to dissect Netflix’s latest offering.]
2011 – A thug finds the meaning of life battling his way through minor league hockey trash (and a horrible script).
Flavorful. Colorful. Meaty, and unforgettable. These are all words that describe the vomit induced by watching this horrible movie.
Shall we begin?
The movie starts focused on pro hockey goon Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) being suspended for taking his hockey stick to the head of an opposing player (an act that would be pretty shocking, had it not been directly copied from real life several years earlier. This results in a lengthy suspension, and his demotion back down to the minor leagues.
Watching from the bar where he works is Doug, an apologetic bouncer with a heart of gold who wants a little more meaning out of life (apparently roughing up drunks isn’t as spiritually rewarding as Roadhouse would have us believe). Played by Sean-William Scott (you may know him from his Oscar-nominated role as Stifler from American Pie), Doug comes from a family of doctors who don’t approve of his line of work. Because of his type of work, Doug is viewed as the black sheep of the family… at least he would be, if not for his brother’s lascivious behavior. What could possibly make this Jewish father embarrassed of his son and his successful career as a surgeon?
It turns out that the successful surgeon brother is also gay, which we know is apparently a shortcoming due to the fact that the father states to a nearby friend, “For the record, they’re both adopted.” What year was this movie made? The 1980s? No, it was made in 2011, which seems a bit late to be making homophobic jokes, in my heterosexual opinion.
After some bitching and moaning about how his life has no meaning to a close friend, we find Doug watching a hockey game from the stands… and by hockey game, I mean a scene from Braveheart set on ice. After one of the opposing players is sent to the penalty box, he immediately singles out Doug’s obnoxious friend whose insults must’ve cut through the rest of the din of the home crowd. Once he is struck with a cup of beer, he climbs over the penalty box wall to “give him a piece, you fagot.”
Not appreciating the homophobic slurs (did I mention Doug’s brother is gay? Because he brings up about 13 times throughout the movie), Doug immediately springs into action and grabs the attacking player. After punching him 18 times in the face (I counted), Doug finishes him off with a vicious headbutt that shatters the player’s helmet and knocks him unconscious while the surrounding fans cheer. Even the one coach is impressed, which is remarkable considering his team is never seen playing hockey in lieu of fighting.
As you may have guessed, the brutal assault of a professional league player did not result in jail time, but instead in an invitation by the head coach to try out for his team. Not having actually played (or skated) any hockey before, Doug had a rough time adjusting to the new surface, and each fall was met by some thunderous laughter from his new teammates.
Now here’s where the hockey fan in me gets disturbed – besides the obvious fact that Doug has NEVER played hockey before – his inclusion into the team makes ZERO sense from a coaching standpoint. Here’s why:
*Doug falls and teammates cackle*
Coach: “I don’t know what you sweethearts are laughing at! 1-9 last time I checked, so shut the fuck up and let the guy have his shot.”
Hey Coach, maybe if your team is 1-9, you shouldn’t be adding guys who have NEVER PLAYED THE GAME. Maybe you should think about… Oh, I don’t know, maybe drafting at least ONE skill player to your kill-squad. Just sayin’.
A short Rocky montage later, and Doug is an adequate skater, Tyson-like boxer, and the crowd favorite. Seeing that his skills have been polished, Doug’s coach trades him to another team who is in desperate need of a goon to protect their star goalscorer, LaFlamme. After suffering a brutal hit from Ross Rhea, LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin) has become gun-shy, and is failing to produce the scintillating goals that he once had. Clearly the only fix for this ailing superstar is to partner him with a monster who skates like a 2 year old.
After Doug arrives at the team’s locker room, we soon realize that the whole team has terrible chemistry and are toxic to each other. From the moment he steps foot in there, it becomes clear that Doug will become the glue that brings this team together.
That is perhaps what bothers me the most about this movie – it’s such a clear cut template on how to make a movie that it leaves no surprises. “That’s not true, Matt,” you say. “You haven’t once mentioned a love interest during your review of this incredible story, so put down your torch and pitchfork, and have another beer, you sloppy drunk.”
Well, hold on just a second, Voice In My Head, because I was just getting to that part. Perhaps the most egregious mistake of all was trying to shoehorn some romance into this shithole film. It’s like they tried to inject a little “heart” into a movie that already has no soul. The chemistry between Doug and Eva (played by WHO THE HELL CARES?) is awkward right from the beginning. Eva sits down randomly at Doug’s bar table where she is immediately harassed by some drunk, Doug punches said drunk in the face, and Eva’s undies start sliding to the floor.
We’re also treated to such charming dialogue as this:
Doug: “Man, I’m wasted. Eva, I really like your name…?” (Yes, delivered as if it was a question.)
Eva: “Yes sir, it’s a great name. Like the Bible, just with a bit more mustard on it.” (…What the fuck?)
Doug: “I think it’s a pretty name… like your face. You have a pretty name, and a pretty face.”
If that doesn’t completely sell you on how shitty this side-plot is, there’s always the kissing. The kissing scenes look as if Doug has a cold and is trying to use Eva’s face as a tissue. It’s a kiss, dude. You just press your lips against hers. You don’t have to exfoliate her cheek with your nose hair.
Eva’s character does become a bit more realistic later in the film, as the more times she sees Doug, the more she becomes perplexed how he can even tie his own shoes. Or maybe she is beginning to realize that his stunted vocabulary and senseless violence may be more indicative of a serial killer than a potential boyfriend.
By the way, can we go into the fact that Doug may or may not be retarded? I don’t mean that to sound derogatory, I’m saying that I literally can’t tell if Scott’s performance as Doug is just that horrible, or if Doug is supposed to be some hard ass version of Forrest Gump. Half of his lines are a mumbled mass of words, and the other half sound like something my 3-year-old would say when “pwaying with his toys.”
I mean, Jesus, I kept waiting for the plot twist that reveals that he was mentally handicapped the whole time, but it never came. The closest thing we got was him emphatically stating to his parents that “I’m stupid” when defending his professional hockey career. Eventually, I just assumed that he had some sort of learning disability, and I actually enjoyed the film a lot more because of it.
The whole movie builds towards a “climatic” fight between Doug and old veteran Ross Rhea, the results of which you couldn’t care less about. By the time the fight rolls around, you just can’t wait for it to be over so you can be done watching this horrible movie. The REAL fight was resisting turning this off during the entire 91 minutes.
[Editor’s Note: Why wasn’t the movie about Liev Schreiber’s goon character? Wouldn’t it have been more interesting to tell the tale of a once-great man on his way out, trying to pass the torch on to the new generation of face-punchers and jersey-grabber? Oh well.]