National Lampoon's Pucked (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for language and some nudity
Running Time: 83 min.
Cast: Jon Bon Jovi, David Faustino, Estella Warren, Curtis Armstrong, Nora Dunn, Cary Elwes, Dot Jones, Pat Kilbane, Danielle James, Angela Bennett, Dana Barron
Director: Arthur Hiller
Screenplay: Matty Simmons, William Dozier, Sal Catalano, Shakes Mutlin
Anemic, deficient comedy like this only needs a two-word review: Pucked sucked.
After watching this very feeble excuse for a comedy, I'm wondering if director Arthur Hiller must have mounting credit card debts of his own that would cause him to come back after a 10-year hiatus from directing to take on this witless project. This is the guy responsible for some classic comedies, including greats like The Americanization of Emily, The Hospital, The Out-of-Towners, the 1979 version of The In-Laws, as well as populist films like Love Story, Silver Streak, and The Babe. Now over 80 years old, one would think his golden years would be better served in pursuits more to his liking, rather than trying to take head on a typically exploitative and crude National Lampoon comedy. His last film (Burn Hollywood Burn) he removed his name from, which goes to show how poor that film must have been if he retained his name on this joyless, forgettable piffle.
Somehow, they managed to get a guy who actually doesn't need the money, Jon Bon Jovi (Pay It Forward, U-571), to star as a jobless, down-on-his-luck inventor named Frank. Frank has had a million ideas to make him a heap of dough over the years, but every single one of them has met with disaster. His latest idea is to create an all-female hockey league in his town, which he is sure will become a national success, if only he could gather the funds to see it get off the ground. After every potential investor literally laughs in his face, through a snafu, Frank happens to receive a credit card in the mail with a nice line of credit, further followed by hundreds more. Frank uses over 200 credit cards in order to fund the rink, players, uniforms, and advertising to get the World Wide Womens Hockey League to finally compete. However, the credit card companies think he is committing fraud by charging hundreds of thousands of dollars without a clear means to pay back his debt, and quickly take action.
The first thing I should mention to anyone who is thinking about picking this up because it is a film about hockey, it isn't. In fact, there is only one scene that has any real action on the rink, and the outcome of it has no bearing on the story whatsoever. Mostly, this is a movie about one man vs. the credit card companies, defending his right to have used the cards as he sees fit because it is their fault that they sent the cards to him, and therefore, it's not his fault that he had been too enticed by the attraction of all of the things the plastic can buy. This doesn't exactly pulsate with potential hilarity, does it?
The second thing I should bring up for those Bon Jovi fans is that this film is a waste of his time as well as yours. Although not a major movie star, Jon has been fine in most roles over the years, usually as a supporting player. Appearing in a National Lampoon film that is practically a straight-to-video release just isn't going to do his career a bit of good. You might think Jon is handsome and likeable enough to watch in almost anything, but truthfully, he doesn't have much in the way of comedic charisma or timing, and in playing what is pretty much a luckless loser, he doesn't seem to fit in with the nature of the character. Whatever possessed him to take on this project, let's hope that it is just a judgment error instead of a sign of things to come.
As with most National Lampoon projects in recent years, much of the humor revolves around women in various states of undress, broad physical humor, wacky one-note characters, and an overall crassness. Flatulent animals, burly female hockey players, kids spouting vulgarities, and kooky homeless men are just some examples of the things that they've thrown in the mix in order to try to give the appearance of an irreverent, sophomoric comedy.
It's almost a guarantee that a second-rate comedy with four or more screenwriters is going to labor for laughs, especially if one is named "Shakes". Pucked is a prime example of this. as it struggles to find a clear identity, not quite knowing if it should play as a humorous sports flick, romantic comedy, or fluffy court-based farce. I suppose it doesn't really matter that the tone is never properly set once you realize that it would have been quite generic no matter which direction the script eventually followed. The best they could do is to constantly distract us with more goofball characters and wacky scenarios that have no other value but to pad its meager running time, such as a prolonged scene where David Faustino's ("Married with Children") best friend character goes on a date with the husky Dot Jones (a real-life female arm wrestling champ) where she practically rapes him.
Pucked's appeal should be limited strictly for those who regularly feast on cheap, cheesy, direct-to-video caliber fare the likes of which National Lampoon has been churning out a dozen titles to every year. It might also have some interest to die-hard Bon Jovi collectors, but in all likelihood, it will be more enjoyed by his detractors, who will relish making fun of him incessantly for even appearing in a film this out-and-out bad. For everyone else, don't even bother, because you won't make it to the end credits. As one of few who will ever make it past the first 15 minutes of the film, I can assure you that, yes, they are there. For a film about the evils of credit cards, it's amazing that people would actually want credit for being involved with this one.
Pucked is about as clever and funny as its title. As bad as it is, I will concede that it's more marketable, if not more accurate, than the ones I could come up with: Dead Puck, Slap Shit, Rink Stink, You Give Comedy a Bad Name, and The Butt-end of Jon Bon Jovi's Acting Career.
©2007 Vince Leo