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At one point the Chop had a formidable collection of VHS tapes. This was in an era before you could watch any movie you wanted at any time you wanted pretty much anywhere in the world. Once upon a time we were a young, broke-ass Chop, forced to scour the pawn shops and bargain bins for videocassettes to supplement our TV diet of Simpsons reruns and quasi-ironic viewings of 7th Heaven.
Most of our VHS collection was pure crap, but there were a few gems in there that stood up to many, many repeated viewings. Slap Shot was one of those movies.
Directed by George Roy Hill and released in 1977, Slap Shot received reviews ranging from lousy to mediocre and enjoyed tepid success at the box office. Despite an initial lack of interest, it eventually went on to become universally acknowledged as the greatest minor-league hockey comedy of the late 1970’s. As it turns out, lewd jokes and rampant cursing stand up well to the test of time, and hearing Paul Newman skate around yelling “Suzanne sucks pussy!” or seeing an entire hockey team moon a group of fans from the windows of a school bus is still funny as hell 36 years later.
Slap Shot has generated more interest and attention in the last 10 years or so than in its first 25 combined. Some would argue that it provided the modern archetype for sports comedy, and that without Slap Shot there would have been no Major League. (And we don’t even want to think about living in a world where there’s no Major League.)
What’s not so funny is the film’s sequels. Made long after Slap Shot’s release in 2002 and 2008 respectively, Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice and Slap Shot 3: The Junior League are both mind-bogglingly terrible in the way that only sequels to a great 1970’s franchise could be. (Talking to you, Smokey and the Bandit and Bad News Bears).
Somewhere along the way, Slap Shot became not just an old comedy but a period piece. Filmed on location around Western Pennsylvania, the film is a look back into an America that barely exists anymore, if at all. Coming out to the Charles tomorrow is a great opportunity to travel back in time and see that America the way it was meant to be seen, on the big screen.
Or you can just stay here in 2013 and watch it on Netflix whenever.