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Score: A Hockey Musical
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by Jaycie

"Puck this noise."
1 stars

Remember when people were inspired to write musicals set against the backdrops of war, poverty, prostitution and murder? Those were good times. My plucky little nation of Canada decided to make its own contribution to the genre in 2010, and its theme was . . . hockey. What. A. Surprise.

If any Canadians you've met have been offended by our constant characterization as "puck-slapping maple-suckers," take their offense with a tablespoon of salt. Writers of Canadian film and television are so likely to fall back on our own cultural tropes, it's a wonder all of our eyes haven't gone beady and our heads gone flappy. With Score: A Hockey Musical, writer/director Michael McGowan has single-handedly added a whole new trope: terrible at musicals.

The "plot": 17-year-old Farley Gordon (Noah Reid) is an absolute master of pond hockey who, thanks to his cartoonishly New Age parents (Marc Jordan and Olivia Newton-John . . . yes, that Olivia Newton-John), has never set skate to ice as a member of an organized team. By sheer dumb luck, Brampton Blades owner Walt Acorn (Stephen McHattie) catches a glimpse of Farley and immediately signs him up over the objections of Coach Donker (John Pyper-Ferguson). Things would go smoothly if not for Farley's pacifism, which prevents him from engaging in the old time tradition of punching the teeth out of your opponents. That is the central conflict. All of it.

Oh, and Farley's best friend Eve (Allie MacDonald) feels neglected despite the new attentions of Italian caricature Marco (Gianpaolo Venuta), but who cares?

Score has roundly been described as "cute," as many Canadian critics are loath to give their countrymen the whippings they so often deserve. In truth, this movie is cute the way kittens are cute after they yack up hairballs onto your freshly shampooed carpet. The idea that the debate over fighting in organized hockey would be well-served by a musical could only have come from McGowan, the same hack who brought us One Week, in which Joshua Jackson goes on a cross-country journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious message in the rim of a Tim Hortons cup. If you rolled your eyes at that, you're probably Canadian, too.

Of the two actors who matter, Reid is the clear superior. He believes in Farley for some reason and almost succeeds in making him endearing. It takes little effort to buy him as the wide-eyed young upstart who just wants to play the game (these types usually end up with a mild coke problem and at least five hos in different area codes). MacDonald, on the other hand, is an unmitigated bore who has no business singing, speaking or forming facial expressions in public. It's impossible to tell where her natural ineptitude ends and her obvious desire not to be there begins. If Kristen Stewart were somehow cast as Liesl in The Sound of Music, she would look and sound like Allie MacDonald.

As for the others: Olivia Newton-John is a folk-singing home-school mom. I have nothing to add to that.

And the songs. Oh my God, the songs. Only three even approximate being worth hearing more than once. The others are less "songs" than "asinine conversations set to melodies, kind of." They range in quality from irritating . . .

Are we supposed to believe that baloney?
You'd be lucky to drive a Zamboni!

. . . to cringe-inducing . . .

Though physical activity is a worthwhile tonic
The clientele at the rink is rather moronic

. . . to so blisteringly awful that you'll want to clean out your ears with your gun . . .

I was afraid of what you'd conclude
That you'd think my love was - was, well, rude
Oh, no, maybe she's a prude

. . . to just plain incorrect:

Look at the temperature outside, it's colder than Venus
You'll get frostbite on your - toe!

VENUS IS THE HOTTEST PLANET IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM, YOU IDIOTS! Did anyone on this production team ever write a lyric before? Oh, that explains it: McGowan has a writing credit on all but one song. Somebody stop him before he kills music again.

I could go on. I haven't even brought up the many worthless cameos from Canadian "celebrities" and the fact that the best line in the script is "Grandpa, go screw yourself!" But what does it matter? Any day now a federal arts fund will get another 90 minutes of self-stereotyping to the big screen, and little will have changed.

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originally posted: 11/11/14 09:03:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 3rd Annual Chicago International Movie & Music Festival For more in the 3rd Annual Chicago International Movie & Music Festival series, click here.

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