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National Lampoon's Pucked
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by Jack Sommersby

1 stars

Haven't heard of this one? No surprise. Hell, I'll take the dreary "National Lampoon's European Vacation" over this turkey.

In the 1990s singer Jon Bon Jovi gave an enjoyable supporting performance as a house painter in his debut Moonlight and Valentino and followed that up with a fine starring performance as a manipulative stage actor in the The Leading Man. Attractive, assured and appealing, he proved himself an ingratiating screen presence; and though he lacked the necessary dynamism as the hero in the direct-to-video Vampires: Los Muertos, he made indelible impressions in minor roles in U-571 and Pay It Forward. He has the lead role again in the ultra-lame, inexplicably-tame National Lampoon's Pucked, and, unfortunately, hes one of its weakest elements. Playing thirty-seven-year-old ex-lawyer Frank Hopper, a quintessential slacker living in his law-practicing sister's garage who hasn't had a job in ten years and whose "full-time dreamer" self is always coming up with failed inventions ranging from hovercraft golf carts to tofu fast-food chains, he's minus the alacrity that would give the character some punch. He knows his lines and is more than willing to cede aesthetic room to his co-stars, but there's an enervating quality to him here that doesn't elicit much in the way of audience interest -- he just comes off like an over-the-hill pretty boy taking time off from Rodeo Drive to show up on set and collect an easy paycheck. Frank's latest brainstorm is a professional Worldwide Women's Hockey League, and after falsifying a million-dollar income on a store's customer-feedback form, he's all of a sudden receiving numerous credit cards in the mail with high five-figure credit limits despite not having even a mere checking account. He leases an expensive car and showers gifts upon his sister and nephew, and with the help of his loyal best friend Carl (Married With Children's David Faustino) he finances his venture with the purchasing of uniforms and promotional materials and rentals of an arena, and for once Frank is finally able to see one of his dreams through to fruition. But there's little pleasure in it for us. National Lampoon's Pucked pales by comparison to the superb Robert Aldrich-directed women's-wrestling picture All the Marbles (there's only one actual game in the entire movie!) and the excellent Paul Newman hockey picture Slap Shot (which boasted engagingly eccentric team members), and for some unfathomable reason it culminates in a lengthy courtroom sequence with Frank having to defend himself against credit-card companies that we couldn't give a damn about, with its didacticism nothing short of unbearable. The undistinguished direction is by Arthur Hiller (Silver Streak), the mediocre scripting by Matty Simmons (National Lampoon's Vacation), and the protagonist boringly played by Bon Jovi -- all of whom should've been sent to and made to stay in the penalty box.

Check out the flawed but entertaining "Body Slam" instead.

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originally posted: 10/31/13 13:19:23
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  10-Feb-2006 (R)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2007



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