Review: Score - A Hockey Musical

Score - A Hockey Musical (2010, directed by Michael McGowan)

We are a rare, lonely breed. Kitted for battle and weaving across frozen terrain, survival instincts cranked to 11, we might have a goal in mind but it's living in the moment and enjoying the dance that really matter as we dodge every skullcrushing danger hurtling our way.

No, I'm not talking about hockey players. I'm talking about connoisseurs of bad movies, a group of which I am proudly (?) a member. I still have fond memories of that golden period at the beginning of the decade when Britney's Crossroads, Mandy's A Walk To Remember (which wasn't actually that bad, disappointingly enough) and Lance Bass' jaw-dropping train wreck On The Line were all in theaters within months of each other, and nothing may ever top the almost Lovecraftian, sanity-blasting horror of trying to wrap my head around the "comedy" masterpiece that is the Love Guru. (But... but... he's wearing a cast iron chastity belt, and they even foley in a giant clang when Verne Troyer squares him, and yet Myers goes down as though he's taken a ball shot... how... why.... GAAAAAAAH)

As brain-meltingly horrible movies about hockey teams go, Score is no Love Guru, but it's at least competing in the same league. The characters are cardboard even by the standards of musicals - the clean-cut lead who looks like he just stepped out of a Brigham Young biopic; the brunette, oddly cute, spunky, quintessentially Canadian girlfriend; the hippie parents; the bitter crusty coach; the sensitive goon teammate; etc etc etc. The dialogue, both sung and unsung, is clumsy and awkward, and the tunes themselves are generic Canadian indie rock, which makes sense given the cameos by the likes of Hawksley Workman and the Rheostatics' Dave Bidini (non-Canadian readers are now free to exclaim, "Who?"), not to mention Nellie Furtado's recurring cameo in a bad wig as a rink rat, which was apparently the price the producers had to pay to get her to phone in a bland cover of a fairly obscure Rush song (Time Stands Still, if you're wondering) over the end credits.

Two things take it from merely bad to hilariously bad though. The first is the fact that the lead, Noah Reid, is actually damn good. In another movie, his naivete and dawning self-awareness would have played very well. In a film that otherwise tragically lacks any shred of self-awareness, though, he just seems to be bopping to a different beat than anyone else.

Which brings up the main thing that makes Score so awesomely awful. How, in the name of all that is holy, do you make a film like this completely in earnest and completely without irony? You've got a main character who doesn't know who Sidney Crosby is, but then recognizes Wayne Gretzky's dad Walter on sight. You've got a group of players who turn on the lead because he won't fight and thus isn't manly enough to be one of them, and express their displeasure in song and dance. Who in their right mind would think playing that kind of thing straight would be a good idea? It's mind-boggling.

From the opening credit montage of the history of hockey (with a wonky arrangement of the friggin' Canadian nation anthem, no less) through to the Slumdog Millionaire On Ice! ending, Score does its best to confuse everyone's exaggerated comedy stereotype of what it means to be Canadian with the real thing. And in doing so, they've made a film for my kind of people.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's been too long since I subjected a hapless victim to the deranged glory that is Dana Carvey's Master of Disguise...

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