Critic Reviews



Based on 9 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Rowdy, raunchy, hilarious, absurd, deeply depressing and profoundly human – often all at the same time – Slap Shot is refreshingly devoid of phony uplift or showy monologues. There's no jerking of tears or pulling of heartstrings, no big lessons to be learned beyond the harsh reminder that sports is a business; the passion of its fans and the heroics of its players are ultimately less important than the clang of the cash register. It's the rare combination of both team-spirit uplift and period-appropriate downer.
The performances—which have a lot to do with the right casting, particularly in the smaller roles—are impeccable. Paul Newman maintains an easy balance between star and character-actor. The leading-man authority is there, but it's given comic perspective by the intensity of the character and by its tackiness, evident even in the clothes he wears.
The on-ice violence is hyperreal, the emotions believable, and the laughs plentiful in this slightly off-the-wall comedy.
It had to happen. The most foulmouthed movie of all time has been written by a woman. Nancy Dowd's original screen-play for SLAP SHOT is a landmark. Like female jockeys, lesbian ministers and distaff sportscasters, this sharp-eared, engagingly impudent young writer has struck a blow for equal rights, a field that stretches from realms of the spirit to jock itch. The first in a coming avalanche of sports-oriented movies, this strenuously irreverent film about a minor-league hockey team in Middle America will set tongues wagging over every sports buff's beer glass, every culture-vulture's wine goblet, every pundit's brandy snifter. [7 Mar 1977, p.68]
Like the character played by Paul Newman in Slap Shot, director George Roy Hill is ambivalent on the subject of violence in professional ice hockey. Half the time Hill invites the audience to get off on the mayhem, the other half of the time he decries it.
Time Out London
It's really just an old-fashioned piece of wish fulfilment, rather duplicitously dressed up in foul language and sexual references in a cynical attempt to look modern. That said, there are still some nice touches of absurdist satirical wit hanging out along the sidelines, given extra bite by Dede Allen's superbly pacy editing.
The New Yorker
Hill lacks the conviction or the temperament for all this brutal buffoonishness, and he can't hold the picture together; what does is the warmth supplied by Paul Newman.
Washington Post
Slap Shot comes at you like a boisterous drunk. At first glance it appears harmlessly funny, in an extravagantly foul-mouthed sort of way. However, there's a mean streak beneath the cartoon surface tha makes one feel uneasy about humoring this particular durnk for too long.
There is nothing in the history of movies to compare with Slap Shot for consistent, low-level obscenity of expression...Its problem is an ending that abruptly transports the audience from heightened realism to broad satire. It is a defect that Slap Shot shares with the current hit Network—a desire to present an editorial so corrosive that aesthetics, questions of form and proportion simply dissolve.

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