NATIONAL LAMPOON’S PUCKED (2006)
Featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Estella Warren, David Faustino, Nora Dunn, Cary Elwes, Curtis Armstrong, Pat Kilbane, Jonathan Furr, Dot Marie Jones, Danielle James, J. David Shapiro, Dana Barron, Mark Povinelli, Al Wiggins, Sal Catalano, Angela Bennett and Gizza Elizondo.
Screenplay by Matty Simmons and William Dozier & Sal Catalano & Shakes Mutlin.
Directed by Arthur Hiller.
Distributed by SymPics. 87 minutes. Rated R.
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 DVD.
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 to watch.
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. (2/06)
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2006.