National Lampoon's Pucked
National Lampoon has leased
its name to so many awful movies over the years that it is hard to expect
anything other than a bomb when you see that name on a marquee. Or
more likely a video case, it is rare that National Lampoon does more than
cursory theatrical releases in a few markets before slipping them out on
I did have some hope for
this film however.
Mostly because the movie is
directed by a legendary director. Arthur Hiller is the man behind the
camera for The In-Laws, Love Story, The Out-of-Towners, Man of La Mancha,
The Hospital, Silver Streak, Outrageous Fortune and many, many others.
However, a few celebrated stinkers in the 90s, including The Babe
with John Goodman and the infamous Joe Eszterhas vanity project An Alan
Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (which Hiller had the good sense to
have his name removed from) have left him out of work for almost a decade.
The cast is also full of
interesting names, granted a little past their sell-by date, but still
interesting actors who have done good work before. The lead character
of Frank is rock
star Jon Bon Jovi, who has been trying for years (mostly unsuccessfully) to
translate his musical fame and good looks into an acting career. However, even if he isn't ready
for Shakespeare, JBJ has a nice, easy-going acting style which is always fun
Several other stars of the
1980s also show up here. David Faustino (Bud Bundy of Married: With
Children) plays the best friend. Former Saturday Night Live
regular Nora Dunn plays the sister. There is Cary Elwes of The
Princess Bride and Saw in the world's worst perm as the
prosecutor boyfriend of Frank's ex. Also, Curtis Armstrong (of
Revenge of the Nerds, Risky Business and Moonlighting) shows up
as a janitor.
This wasn't the
typical National Lampoon pay-for-play title, where they slapped their name
on any cheesy sex comedy that can't find a release. This movie was
actually written by Matty Simmons, the bigwig at Lampoon back when it
was still a brilliant humor magazine, and the producer of the early, classic
Lampoon movies like Animal House, Vacation and European Vacation.
There was a good amount of
talent in this movie. So I wish I could tell you I liked this movie.
Or even that it was kind of funny. Or that Arthur Hiller will get
another job in less than a decade after this. But I really can't.
Pucked is not
startlingly bad, but it is just so uninteresting that it makes you wonder
why anyone bothered.
It is the story of a lovable
loser. Bon Jovi plays Frank, a former lawyer who now lives off his
lawyer sister while trying to find a new get rich scheme. (Jon Bon
Jovi as a former
lawyer? Okay...) His latest brainstorm is an all-woman hockey
league. Frank gets the chance to live his dream when he suddenly is
sent over 200 credit cards, so he decides to put the whole league on credit.
It seems to be working. The opening night is a great success.
The women players are beautiful and tough. He even wins back his
gorgeous-but-cynical ex (Estella Warren), yet another lawyer. Of course,
eventually, his plan blows up and he lands into legal woes.
The ideas behind this film
are kind of threadbare. Follow your dream...? True enough, but
it's been done before a few million times. Credit card companies are
greedy? I'll alert the media! Women can play hockey, too?
Maybe, we never get to see enough. Any storyline can be redeemed by
gratuitous nudity? Sadly, we don't get to see enough of that, either.
The movie title gives you an
idea of the level of humor here. In fact, the film's original title,
The Trouble With Frank may have been more generic, but it was
necessary for the final punch line in the movie to work. (Granted, it wasn't a good joke, but it was a reference to the former title,
nonetheless.) Also, in
the closing credits they show zany cast outtakes where the original title is referred
to. However, no matter what they say
we are Pucked.
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Posted: February 10, 2006.