Friday, August 27, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Directed by George Mihalka.
2008. Not Rated, 92 minutes.
Alexander de Jordy
David Sutcliffe
Daniel Magder
John Robinson
Richard Fitzpatrick
Debra McCabe
Cary Lawrence
Lori Hallier
Scott Beaudin
Mark Camacho

A few days after America’s “Shock and Awe” campaign, which officially began “The War on Terrorism”, a youth hockey team from Brockton, Massachusetts travels to Canada for a tournament and is treated very rudely as anti-American sentiments run high. Feeling bad about the situation and going through some problems of his own, Jordan (de Jordy) one of the Canadian players wants to make it up to the kids from the U.S. He decides to try and organize a “friendship tournament” and invite the scorned team back to his country to show them that all Canadians aren’t jerks.

That’s pretty much all I got. It’s a feel-good made-for-TV movie so you should know how this goes down. Coincidentally, I had no idea this was a TV flick until the first long fade to black where there was obviously a commercial during its airing. The back of the DVD cover doesn’t tell you this. Not surprisingly, it’s all rather bland. There are a few tense moments when the Brockton team makes their first trip across the northern border, but that’s about it. The rest of the movie is Jordan trying to convince people his tournament is a good idea. So yeah, it tries to warm your heart whether you want it to, or not, and never lets up.

The two subplots are only vaguely interesting. One is about our hero’s parents seemingly in the early stages of a divorce. From the looks of things, they may have just bored each other to an unbearable degree. The other involves the Canadian team’s star player, Kyle (Beaudin). He’s only twelve but is already diligently working toward a career in the NHL. Of course, he’s also a jerk, making him and his even more of a jerk dad (Camacho), pseudo-villains. This latter storyline should’ve been much more intriguing. It possesses the potential for all sorts of social commentary. Alas, just like with the bigger issue at hand, the tournament, it lets us skate by unscathed rather than checking us into the boards.

When the credits finally roll, we’ve been inundated with all the warm and fuzzy clichés and breezed through all the conventional plot twists that seem to happen on cue. Early and pre-teen kids will probably like it a good deal, even the life-lessons about how to treat others. It’s cute, even enjoyable if you can take all the schmaltz, but we’ve seen it before. A lot.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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