Saturday, March 21, 2015

Score: A Hockey Musical: Review


Hockey Montage
Opening Credits Montage.
Hockey Montage
Opening Credits Montage.

Score: A Hockey Musical is an under-appreciated gem, as is its leading lady, Allie MacDonald (and the leading lady of this blog).  This is a coming-of-age, romantic sports drama musical.  It covers its bases like nobody's business.  Toronto locations such as Eaton Centre/Yonge-Dundas Square are a pleasure to behold (if Allie or all the Hockey-outfitted studs aren't doing it for you).  This film was marketed as a youth/kids film at the time (Allie traveled to Iceland and spoke about it at a Scandinavian Kids Film Festival) but I believe that this film offers more for adults than kids, not that kids won't or can't respond to it as well.  This is a film of national pride and I felt that Canadian tinge of ice-cold warmth both times I've watched it.  It is exceedingly appropriate that the film opens with a montage of hockey footage, including everything from casual outdoors hockey to professional.

Defintion of Score
Showing the unexpected thematic layering implied by the title.
Allie MacDonald as Eve.
Allie MacDonald as Eve.

Allie MacDonald as Eve.
Allie MacDonald as Eve.

Noah Reid as Farley Gordon
Noah Reid as Farley Gordon.
There is a cartoon-like energy to this film.  Filming and editing techniques are in no short supply either, such as split-screen and animation over live action.  I think this film would have been a bigger success in the 1980's when films like Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer were successful.  One big criticism, I imagine, is that this film is basically pure wish-fulfillment.  And it is quite patriarchal to boot.  Besides the girl-next-door and the mother and one rambunctious girlfriend fan, this film is all men.  That said, it's still a great time if you allow it to work its magic.

Allie MacDonald Noah Reid Split Screen

Allie MacDonald Noah Reid Animation Split Screen
Wow, the animation!

Noah Reid stars as Farley Gordon, a playground hockey player who is home-schooled by pacifist and intellectual parents (Olivia Newton-John and Marc Jordan).  He also lives next to a girl, Eve (Allie MacDonald), who is his friend and secret would-be lover.  Eve plays cello when she's not keeping Farley company.  They actually have some kind of mechanism for knocking made with cans and rope (or cable) assembled outside their windows so that they can wake each other up or otherwise get each others' attention without leaving their rooms.  Farley gets recruited by Walt Acorn (Stephen McHattie) one day to play for the Brampton Braves, and he's eventually immersed in the world of amateur hockey, which is his first foray into any kind of organized or league hockey.

Stephen McHattie as Walt Acorn
Stephen McHattie as Walt Acorn.

His parents disapprove of hockey because it's too aggressive; his parents prefer that he engage in more passive activities.  Eve supports his feelings and decisions as a great girl-next-door/lifetime friend should.  He quickly rises to celebrity status because of his speed and goal-making efficiency.

However, he must struggle with his pacifism since the culture of hockey won't fully accept him unless he's willing to engage in fights on the ice, which apparently break out quite regularly.  John Pyper-Ferguson plays the intimidating Coach Donker, who really wants Farley off the team.  It's really about defending one's honor.  As he deals with these struggles, others follow.  This conflict tracks to an interesting resolution.

John Pyper-Ferguson as Coach Donker.
John Pyper-Ferguson as Coach Donker.

Farley and Eve have their share of struggles too, which are quite predictable, but I think no less sweet or dreamy.  And, of course (say what you will), these tend to be my favorite moments.

There are some pretty cool and cheeky lyrics and lines such as: "Tonsil hockey," "to him I did not my heart or tongue forsake," and "let's make one thing clear: I only like men who skate with sticks."  The expression on Eve's face for the last line is pretty priceless, in my book.

Olivia Newton-John, Marc Jordan, Allie MacDonald
Best cheering section ever.

If the surrealism of seeing hockey players dancing and singing doesn't do it for you, then you're icier than the ice the players skate on.  There is much to enjoy in this film.

Hockey dance dancing dances
Hockey dances.

No comments:

Post a Comment