October 3, 2010

Puck Flick Reborn...

Back in January, I wrote about a hockey flick scripted by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg called Goon that was slated to go before cameras with Fubar director Michael Dowse helming only to see the production fall apart.   I was disappointed to see that project falter, chiefly because it was being written and directed by Canadians and in the canon of hockey cinema the biggest issue is the stories being created and told by people with precious little knowledge of the game.  Whatever issues plagued it then are no longer a problem and the movie is back in production with Dowse once again at the helm and co-scripter Jay Baruchel (who's co-writer Evan Goldberg is Seth Rogen's writing partner who co-wrote Superbad, Pineapple Express and the upcoming Green Hornet)  appearing in a support role.

This is good news because Kevin Smith's long discussed project Hit Somebody, which is based on singer songwriter Warren Zevon's song of the same name is going into production directly following Smith's current project, Red State.  I've had the chance to talk with Smith about this project, and his love for hockey (he's a big New Jersey Devil and Edmonton Oilers fan, the former because of his home-state allegiances and the latter because of loyal devotion to Wayne Gretzky) and I'm genuinely intrigued by his project.   Smith twice as a guest on my Sirius Satellite radio show Relentless, and both times he spoke about the development of the film, his reverence for Slap Shot, and his genuine passion for the game.  We discussed the pitfalls that hockey movies often fall in, the largest issue being that the filmmakers don't understand the sport and  ultimately make choices that insult the intelligence of the average hockey fan viewer.  (The Mighty Ducks making Iceland, of all places, the ultimate global hockey power springs to mind, as does the ridiculous scene in Youngblood where Rob Lowe - who's walked off the team and left returns to the rink, gets dressed and steps on the ice just in time to score the game winner, somehow finding himself on the roster, with his gear in the building and his team magically playing a man short to accommodate his sudden return.)  After decades of lousy hockey movies, or no hockey films at all, it's nice to have two projects in the pipeline scripted and directed by genuine fans of the sport.

But all is not well, I'm afraid, because Goon, the Baruchel project, has also announced it's casting and the lead role will be occupied by Seann William Scott. (Also in the cast is actress Alison Pill, seen recently in the under appreciated Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)  I have no issue with Stiffler on skates, but both times I spoke with Smith about his project, he mentioned that he was writing the lead role with a specific actor in mind: Seann William Scott.  I understand that some actors can play similar roles, for example, Kevin Costner has played a broken down old baseball player twenty six times in his career, but I don't see Scott playing the lead in both of these movies. Considering both films are hcokey comedies about a pugilistic hockey player in the lower ranks of minor pro hockey, I would say it's a little too similar to have him in both, and when you consider he'd literally be shooting the movies back-to-back it becomes absurd.   Kevin... it's casting time.  Smith, as he's apt to do, responded to the situation via his twitter, aknowledging that Scott was "circling" Goon, and that because of his work on Red State, the screenplay, which he told me last month was coming along very well, is now at a standstill.  "It's been a busy month, so still on page 101."   Despite losing his leading man, Smith's passion for puck supercedes his desire to cast Scott.  His final tweet looked at the big picture:  "The more hockey flicks, the better. #SellTheGame"   Well said.

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