Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hockey Movie Review

Imagine that you are a dad in Ontario and have a special son that you teach everything you know about the game of hockey. You ride along with him and collect many prizes and mementos along with a career of achievement. Now, thy to picture being that same dad and waking up one morning to forgetting 50 years of absolutely everything done.

So, I notice on the shelf at my local Blockbuster and was pleasantly surprised to see that there are more hockey movies produced than Slapshot and The Mighty Ducks. This DVD was a special edition of the life of a special man who an entire nation considered with the title "Hockey Dad". It looked inspirational and I need some real inspiration in my life lately, so I gave it a try.

Before I tell you about "Waking up Wally", I simply must commend my good friends up north for producing quality television entertainment that far outshines the gutter-trash that Hollywood churns out while responsible for corrupting America's national soul. I have really been enjoying some of the syndicated Canadian content that has trickled down to my television set these past few years. Red Green Show, Stone Undercover, and now this. The kid's a-ight!

This movie is one of those tricky ones were Men can get some enjoyment out of it and still get points with women as a "date movie". It is based on the book Walter Gretzky: On Family, Hockey and Healing and chronicles a struggling man through a recovery of a debilitating stroke. This movie has all the ingredients of what a good movie should be so that it can be everything to everyone. Romance, loss, mystery, drama, sadness, and of course hockey!

The crown jewel of this film is Tom McCamus (seen above) who portrays Walter Gretzky in such a complex yet charming way that you cant help but root for the stubborn man throughout the film. Interlaced with Gretzky memories and a reshoot of Wayne's April 1999 retirement in New York, Walter on the screen commands such a deep respect as a patriarch, but wins everybody over becoming child-like re-learning his surroundings. In the film, most movie extras are comfortable with Wayne's dad and just address him as Wally. In one memorable scene, Walter is fussing over the Gretzky trophy room threatening to charity auction off Wayne's sticks and sweaters, his wife confronts him to which Wally can only justify the idea by saying "It is only a puck. You can get one of those at Canadian Tire for $1.99."

Besides the comedic relief, there is the moments that forcibly yank at the heartstrings of every caring individual. Much of the movie covers the frustrations of his family who no longer see their Walter as a tough and strong person. Wally Gretzky struggles with the few mixed memories of his childhood and those of own family. The movie then becomes almost a mystery as the therapists and Gretzky family fight for a cure-all to restore Wally's post-brain hemorrhage condition. It took the love of hockey for Wally to gain some strength and a sense of purpose. Wally soon found a midget team to coach and impart some wisdom to a new generation of hockey players.

The one theme through the movie was the strategy that Walter Gretzky taught his sons that tied into the lesson at the end. "Don't go where [the puck] was. Follow where it is going." So true is that philosophy in hockey to also apply to life.

So then, I was able to find my inspiration after all. God bless you, Walter Gretzky.

Of course, you can read a better review of it on the CBC website.
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