Slap Shot is a 1977 sports comedy film starring Paul Newman, which has earned a sort of cult status among Ice Hockey fans; it has been named as the best hockey movie of all time by no less an authority than The Hockey News.
The Charlestown Chiefs are a minor league hockey team in the Federal League. With a losing record, a lack of popularity, and the fact that the town's steel mill — a main local job provider — is closing, the team seems doomed to be folded after the season. But then the team picks up the Hanson Brothers, three childlike young men who play the roughest hockey the team has ever seen (played by three real-life minor league hockey players). Reggie Dunlop (Newman), a veteran player and the Chiefs' coach, decides to retool the team around the brothers after their aggressive and violent play excites the fans. This decision splits the team between players who enjoy some good rough-housing on the ice, and those who prefer a "clean" style of playing. In a side plot, one of the "clean" players, Ned Braden, is on the verge of losing his wife due to her displeasure with their lifestyle.
Despite their slow rise in popularity, the team is still meant to be folded, and in order to keep his players' spirits up, Dunlop starts a rumor that the Chiefs have found a buyer somewhere in Florida. As the Chiefs continue winning and gaining fans, Dunlop blackmails the team's stingy GM, Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) to tell him who the team's mysteriously unknown owner is, in order to convince them not to fold the team.
The film was shot on location in and around Pittsburgh and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The screenplay was written by Nancy Dowd, whose brother Ned played for the Johnstown Jets (of the now-defunct North American Hockey League), a team that included the guys who would play the Hanson Brothers in the movie. Ned himself appeared in the film, playing the notorious Ogie Oglethorpe. The director, George Roy Hill, also directed Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
- Artistic License – Sports: Pretty much every instance of body contact shown would be an obvious interference penalty.
- Berserk Button: Hanrahan with regards to his wife's sexuality, used to great effect by Dunlop.
- Big Game: For the league championship. Subverted by the very unusual ending to the Big Game.
- The Big Guy: The Hanson Brothers. They're so good at their job (i.e. absolutely smashing the competition into a pulp and getting in as many fouls as possible) that it took an entire hockey team comprised of nothing but equally violent players (which is saying something because "equal" in this case also includes Ogie fucking Oglethorpe) to try and deal with them.
- The Brute: Ogie Oglethorpe, someone so vicious and maniacal in the rink that he's become the stuff of legend.
- Casanova Wannabe: Moe. Every single thing he says has to do with sex and he has pictures from nudie mags taped to his locker. Yet he is never seen with a single woman at any point in the film. The weird goalie with a thick Quebec accent does better than Moe.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The F word itself is mentioned at least 60 times throughout the movie, among other swears. Hey, it's the language of the locker room. Paul Newman has said in interviews that he swore very little before making Slap Shot, but retained Reg's penchant for profanity after filming.
- Creator Cameo: Screenwriter Nancy Dowd appears as a player's wife.
- Death Glare: More or less Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken's default expression.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: After a Syracuse player punches the head referee in the final game with Syracuse winning 1-0, the referee disqualifies Syracuse and gives the Chiefs the victory.
- Drives Like Crazy: Lily Braden, much to Reggie's concern when he has to hitch a ride with her.
- The Dreaded: Ogie Oglethorpe. Due to his in-rink status as The Brute, he's become so famous that even the announcer has to do a double take in order to realize just how much of a THREAT that the Hanson Brothers are.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken regarding behavior on the ice. Beating the ever-living shit out of each other? Perfectly normal. Performing a striptease? An unforgivable, obscene act of perversion that must be stamped out at once.
- Facepalm: Ogie Oglethorpe's reaction upon witnessing Ned Braden stripping on the ice in the final game.
- Fanservice: A topless scene with Melinda Dillon for no particular reason.
- Godzilla Threshold: The Hanson Brothers manage to cross this in the Hockey scene; It causes Syracuse to bring out Ogie Oglethrope just to deal with them, alongside some other goons.
- Hockey Fight: The premise of the film is that Reg decides to focus his team's whole strategy on fights to get the fans excited again and hopefully drum up interest in a sale. It has the side effect of also getting them to the championships, since their opponents are often too battered to play effectively.
- Manchild: The Hanson Brothers, who pack their suitcases full of toys to go on the road.
- Memetic Mutation: "Old time hockey!" referred in universe to clean play. In popular culture, however... Though there's a bit of Values Dissonance at play here. At the time of the film, the idea of gooning it up as strategy was still a relatively new concept, having just been codified a few years earlier by the Philadelphia Flyers (who gooned their way to a pair of Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975). But by the end of the 80s, the NHL and most professional, college, and junior leagues had began to crack down on fighting. Then as the Cold War ended and Eastern European players began to make their way to North America... bringing their quicker, finesse-based style with them... the term "old time hockey" began to refer to the goonery that saw its heyday in the 1970s.
- Modesty Bedsheet: inverted; Reg and Suzanne have a post-coital chat and she sits up, exposing her naked *breasts; while Reg remains bundled up to the neck.
- Mooning: The entire team plus their followers do this out the windows of their vehicles when they get to one town that objects to their presence, and manage to stun the crowd to silence.
- Music at Sporting Events: "Don't ever play 'Lady of Spain' again!"
- Noodle Incident: One of the notorious players returning to hockey for the final "has been living in semi-seclusion running a donut shop in Moosejaw, Saskachewan, ever since the famed Denny Pratt Tragedy."
- Opposing Sports Team: Inverted in that the protagonists are a down-and-out hockey team who suddenly hit the big time when they recruit three brothers who teach them the value of violent tactics deliberately designed to hurt the other team. This ends with them facing a team that's a conglomeration of all the most violent players their opponents can find, with no one making any attempt to play the game as they just try to kick each others' asses instead.
- Potty Failure: Nick Brophy on the Hyannisport team is drunk during a game and tells Dunlop that he's going to piss himself if he takes a hit on the boards. When Braden checks him on his next shift, Brophy has to gingerly skate off the ice in shame.
- Precision F-Strike: Though the Hanson Brothers are brutal, they at least know when to shut up and when others should too. One referee thought that the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was the perfect opportunity to berate them for the brawl that had happened during the warmups.Referee: I got my eye on the three of you. You pull one thing, you're out of this game. I run a clean game here. I have any trouble here, I'll suspend ya!
Steve Hanson: I'm listening to the FUCKING SONG!!!!
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: In reaction to the Chiefs' violent tactics, their main rival Syracuse decides to up the ante by stocking their team full of infamous and violent goons, many of whom were previously suspended from the league for flagrant violations. These include Ogie Oglethorpe (who was deported to Canada, but the Canadians refused to take him), Gilmore Tuttle (former penalty-minute record holder for the years 1960 to 1968 inclusive), Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken and Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown (who once in an interview called his hockey stick the "Big Tomahawk" and the opposing players as "the little scalps").
- Re-Release Soundtrack: "Right Back Where We Started From" and the rest of the songs featured in the film (including tracks by Elton John and Fleetwood Mac) were removed from its VHS releases and replaced with generic instrumentals. The songs were restored on the subsequent DVD and BD releases.
- '70s Hair: Several players feature long, shaggy hair, many with big, bushy 70s mustaches or beards... and then there is the glory of Ogie Oglethorpe's afro.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Lily Braden.
- Suddenly Shouting: The "Reason You Suck" Speech of General Manager Joe McGrath, who had been a colossal prick, though a quiet one up to this point. He is visibly upset because NHL scouts are in the stands watching the team get pummeled, risking any future job prospects he has after the Chiefs team dissolves. He screams at the team to forget "old time hockey" and stop acting like pussies, which inspires the team to stop playing clean.Reggie: Scouts?
- Take a Third Option: Ned Braden is forced to choose between joining the increasingly violent antics of his team (getting the attention of NHL scouts) or maintaining his anti-violent stance and risk getting overwhelmed by the brute tactics and losing the interest of the crowd. After watching the absurdity unfold for much of the film, Braden finally retaliates with his own absurdity: the live striptease that excites the crowd and cools down the feuding teams.
- Trickster Archetype: Reggie Dunlop.
- A Truce While We Gawk: The striptease during the climactic Hockey Fight eventually has both teams stop brawling and just stand there gawking at Braden stripping in befuddlement. Ogie Oglethorpe, the baddest brawler of them all, even does a facepalm in embarrassment.
- Unnecessary Roughness:
- The Hanson Brothers practically embody this.
- And then with the team of goons for the final game.