Judge David Johnson is consistently amazed at the wit and prowess of movie title writers.
Sometimes even the losers score big.
Whoa. A National Lampoon movie that's not about drunken college kids?! To answer your next question: Yes, there are breasts.
Facts of the Case
Pucked tells the story of loveable loser and freeloader Frank Hopper (Jon Bon Jovi, U-571) and his loveable loveability. You see, Frank is what we call a dreamer, a pie-in-the-sky idealist who has his head in the clouds. Plus, he has long blonde hair and a nice smile. Constantly cooking-up cockamamie get-rich-quick schemes, Frank just as constantly finds himself failing miserably.
Then one day, he's hit with an epiphany: an all-women's professional hockey league. Yeah, that's the ticket! And thanks to a miscommunication on a credit card application, Frank is soon the owner of a pile of high-limit credit cards, on which he charges all the expenses of his embryonic league, despite the dire warnings of his best friend Carl (David Faustino, Married With Children).
With a burgeoning sports entity staffed by beautiful women, a growing fan base, and a hot girlfriend (Estella Warren), what could go wrong for Frank? Oh, how about felony fraud?! Ka-pow!
Yee-haw, another National Lampoon movie. Truth be told, I have pretty much soured to the branding, having had my time thoroughly wasted the last few occasions I've tangled with flicks boasting the National Lampoon label (see National Lampoon's Pledge This, National Lampoon's Holiday Reunion, and National Lampoon's Dorm Daze). This one, well, showed an atom of promise. There were enough recognizable names (Cary Elwes, Estella Warren, Curtis Armstrong, Nora Dunn) and the milked-to-death frat genre was set aside. So I gave Pucked a clean slate. And the result is…
…another disappointment. But for different reasons. Pucked doesn't tank because it tries too hard for sophomoric jokes and fails miserably. It tanks because it doesn't even try to be funny. Or maybe it does and the effort was so minimal I couldn't see it, like trying to delineate neutrons with the naked eye. There were a few tired gags, sure: a requisite fight scene with a midget (that hasn't gotten old), David Faustino dating the manliest female on the hockey team, spontaneous female nudity. But the film's comical machinations were subdued in favor of some character development for Frank and feel-good schlock that consumed the entire third act of the film. Problem is, Jon Bon Jovi brought the on-screen vivacity of a cardboard cutout of Jon Bon Jovi to the role. He looked exquisitely bored the entire time and spat out his lines with as little fanfare as possible. This was odd, considering he appears to be such an animated guy in real life. Regardless, none of that legendary Slippery When Wet charisma transferred onto the small screen.
The other actors, with the exception of Faustino, who manages to inject some verve into the thankless sidekick role, do their share of coasting as well. Estella Warren is gorgeous and that's about all that's asked of her; the talented Nora Dunn is wasted; Cary Elwes is relegated to disposable bad guy status (though I dug his nerdy American accent); and Curtis Armstrong tackles the enormously challenging task of "listening to David Faustino tell a story."
The most egregious misstep for Pucked is short-changing the pro women's hockey team gimmick. I have no idea why the writers bothered making it the centerpiece of the film. Nothing interesting or outrageous ever happens, and there is zero comical fruit borne from the concept. As far as I can tell, the only reason for the plot-point's existence are some cheap locker room shots. The film's attention quickly shifts away from the league, during Frank's overlong and laugh-free credit card fraud trial. In the end, I guess Pucked is more a "credit card fraud comedy" than anything else. So if that sounds funny to you, have at it.
The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, while anamorphic, tends to sport a washed-out look. Colors appear dull and the overall quality is diminished. The 5.1 audio mix doesn't have a whole lot to do. In the extras: good news for fans of rampant nudity! In an effort to increase the nipple count for the disc, two featurettes, "Dirty Old Man" and "PooNanny," offer non-stop female disrobement and little else.
Hackneyed and light on humor, Pucked isn't an affront to all that is holy, but it's below mediocre and likely not worth the effort of removing the disc from its case. The women-playing-hockey gag goes nowhere.
Not bad enough to earn penalty box minutes, but the accused is the third-string player on the bench everyone ignores.
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• PooNanny Featurette
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