“The family that plays together wins together.”
Gordie Howe (Michael Shanks, Saving Hope) spent 25 years as a Detroit Red Wing in the NHL. When it came time for him to retire he did so, accepting the retirement of his number 9 jersey as well. But a scant two years later and two of his sons have reached the current limits of their league. Isn’t it too bad the NHL doesn’t have a lower recruiting age? That’s what Colleen Howe aka “Mrs. Hockey” (Kathleen Robertson, Beverly Hills 90210) ponders to the WHA recruiters who clearly see what the rest of us soon will. Mrs. Howe is shown to be more than merely progressive, she’s the business-savvy woman behind the success of her family’s hockey deals.
If I had to find a flaw with Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story it’s that the title is a bit of a misnomer. Those looking for a comprehensive take on the life and career of Gordon “Gordie” Howe should be forewarned. This film takes place during the period of time in Howe’s life when he decided to come out of retirement and play for the Houston Aeros, a WHA (World Hockey Association) team that had recently drafted two of Howe’s sons, Marty (Dylan Playfair, Grave Encounters 2) and Mark (Andrew Herr). The duration of the story is over the first season the “Howe line” (as they came to be called) played together. Perhaps this should have been called “The Howe Line” or “Welcome to Howeston” instead, as it is merely a slice of life and not an encompassing biopic.
Some will call this a “feel good” film and mean that as an insult, but I think it’s one of Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story‘s selling points. This isn’t meant to be a drama fest filled with tense nail biting moments. It’s a story of family, following your dreams, and understanding what’s important in life. For Gordie Howe all of that combined into one sport, and the ability to play with his sons was the dream of Howe’s life. Michael Shanks does an admirable job bringing Howe to life. One of the best things about Shanks is what he brings to the role from his real life: he’s a hockey player. That frees the storytelling from having to incorporate any fake shots skating, which rarely work in sport biopics.
Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story is a lighter fare film, heavier on the love of family and life than drama. Those who long for a comprehensive film about Howe’s life should look elsewhere. But those who are interested in this brief period or are searching for a family film about what it takes to keep a family together and accomplish your dreams would do well to search out this flick.
The video is exceptional. The actual video segments of Howe which are incorporated feel dated but don’t look as though they were merely transferred from a VHS tape. Instead they’ve been obviously touched up and play very well within the scope of the rest of the high-def video. The audio is also top notch, with the DTS-HD Master providing all the definition to the ice scrapes and assorted Foley a person could ask for. As if that is not enough, there’s also a Dolby 5.1 track — overkill in the best way.
As far as special features go there are quite a few deleted scenes, almost a half an hour’s worth. In addition there is a TV spot, but probably the most noteworthy features are VUDU and DVD copies of the film.
I didn’t know a lot about Gordie Howe before watching Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story and though a lot of the star’s life is glossed over, I was persuaded to look up more about his life after my viewing. I enjoyed the peek at the Howe’s marriage and family relationships, and the story of one of the greatest hockey players of all time coming out of retirement was inspirational. I appreciated the lack of tension and high drama and would call this a “feel good” movie in the best way.