I have a relatively simple mantra about the purchase of sports movies – every time I see one for under $10, I buy it. This has led to purchases that are both questionable and wonderful: my movie collection has grown to include such classics as Major League III: Back to the Minors, Kicking & Screaming, and Little Big League. So as I’m strolling through Target the other day, the smirking face of Anthony Michael Hall caught my eye. That’s right, Johnny B. Good and for the low low price of $5.99. Now loyal reader (singular), I’m sure you know I’d gladly pay such a fee for that movie alone, but to my surprise this was a 2-pack. The 2nd movie in question was a film I had heard little about – Youngblood. But it piqued my interest so I went ahead and made my purchase. What followed can only be described as confusing, entertaining, and crappy.
Immediately I’m asked to accept 22 year-old Rob Lowe as 17 year-old American Hockey player Dean Youngblood who is given a chance to try out with the mighty Hamilton Mustangs of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, who are on the cusp of a playoff run. Fine. Sure. Lowe can pull off 17 and I know jack about hockey so, sure, he can also pull off a hockey player. I then get to enjoy a fun moment at Youngblood’s tryout when he is beaten senseless by the clearly established heel of the movie, the cryptically named “Racki”. There’s only one spot available on the Mustangs, and Racki is cut from the team. He swears his revenge. Having seen a movie before, you know this is going to come back and haunt the Mustangs. (on a side note, George J. Finn, the man who played Racki was such a solid performer that he has an entire TWO credits on his IMDB page.) So I bet you’ll never guess who DOES make the team and gets the last spot on the Mustangs? That’s right…not Dean Youngblood. Credits roll, everyone goes home a little pissed that they spent 8 bucks on a 25 minute movie, and I’m only 1/3 of the way through my Extra Large tub of popcorn. Wait. He made it, how else were we going to get to meet his teammates?
Swayze. I don’t really know how else to appropriately introduce him. Youngblood’s mentor character is rendered by Swayze’s Derek Sutton. Sutton is the team hot shot with a heart of gold. Having scored 92 goals in the Canadian Junior League regular season, he sets his sights on becoming the 1st pick in the NHL Draft. Have I mentioned yet what year this movie was made? 1986. Any idea what year Patrick Swayze was born? 1952. For those of you without an abacus that’s 34 years old. I’m not entirely certain which NHL team would pick a 34 year old center slumming it in Canadian Junior Hockey at the top of the draft (apparently the Detroit Red Wings would have had the opportunity in ’86), but it seems like a poor investment.
A minor player in this classic is the goalie “Heaver”. Heaver is the French-Canadian, broken-English speaking goalie. Heaver is played by Keanu Reeves. Keanu Reeves plays French-Canadian about as well I write…which is to say not well. I think he had about 9 lines, which was roughly 8 too many.
To spare you some time, Racki comes back to brutally injure Sutton (with what appeared to be a concussion or something) in the Canadian Junior Hockey Finals. Trust me I was shocked to see ol’ Racki again. Who would have thought that would happen? Youngblood then vows revenge but decides to quit the team instead and go home to the U S of A after realizing that he punches like Glass Joe and would get his ass kicked by Racki. After some soul searching, a couple of montages, and a fighting lesson from both his brother and father, Youngblood drives back to Canada just in time for the game. Upon the advice of the now head-bandaged Sutton (Swayze in a head bandage is a must see), the coach inexplicably lets the quitter back on the team mere minutes before the game. Well as I’m sure you have predicted, Youngblood is the hero, scoring 3 goals to lead the Mustangs to the championship. He even hit a climactic penalty shot with 3 seconds left (see below):
That takes care of that right? A redemption story! Youngblood did it without having to fight. A story all the kiddies can feel good about. No. Instead with the game in hand the teams, like school children, opt to circle around Youngblood and Racki as they engage in a fight. This happened. Youngblood kicked Racki’s ass around the rink for a minute and everyone went home happy (seemingly happier with the ass kicking than the championship). The whole thing left me scratching my head, but I guess I got myself into this by purchasing a mid-80’s hockey movie starring Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, and Keanu Reeves. I was left with one strong takeaway though – fighting solves everything and makes all your problems go away.