“Inspired by a true story,” two youth hockey teams on either side of the Canada/US border find friendship and bond through their mutual love of the game while tensions rise between those that support and those that protest the Iraq invasion and assorted post 9-11 security fears.
Two young teams wish to play a tournament in Montreal but the American team, already having enough trouble convincing the parents to let them travel outside of the US, are greeted by Anti-War protesters. The Canadian and American kids witness both nations react out of fear, misunderstanding, and hatred. Inspired to mend some of the wounds created by these tensions, the Captain of the Canadian makes an attempt to demonstrate what really matters by hosting a mixed game between the same American and Canadian teams, only this time mixing the players instead of having the nations face each other.
Though some of the moments might seem overly cornball or melodramatic, many are true as they are told, such as a when the American anthem is booed by the crowd at a Montreal Canadians game. The Iraq War sparked all sorts of misguided anti-American actions and sentiments in Canada and this film takes a few examples and does its best to show them as dangerously foolish and unavoidably wrong.
The hockey banter peppered throughout the dialogue is obvious fodder for churning out endless references to professional players and such, and the soundtrack is often lame, but the performances are decent, the tension is often engrossing, and the feel-good moments are brief and humble enough to actually be enjoyable. All-in-all a nice balance is struck to make this a worthwhile watch that may be overly obvious in its messages but they sometimes both politics, and even some opinions on sports ethics that are injected into the script, need to be laid out plain and simple for people to understand.
(as a random side note: the eery Paul Giammati lookalike/impersonator who plays the assistant coach is REALLY distracting).
Widescreen 16:9 Enhanced. A decent enough picture that looks like it was designed for a television broadcast and not a theatrical screen (which it was) but has a decent enough polish for a non-HD TVs.
Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. Like the video, the sound is plenty good for television, hence just stereo and not surround. The echoed claps of sticks against pucks in a small arena sound clean and the dialogue is plenty clear.
This is a film that certainly caters to its intended audience of families and sports fans but at least it is not the vapid sort of entertainment which is being churned out by the likes of the Disney Channel. It panders in some ways, but it feels like a good kind of pandering somehow. Maybe I was just tickled because I know what it means when a character refers to Joseph, Thornton or Neely.