The response to my piece on "Against the Odds" was rather overwhelming. Then again, it is pretty much impossible to see the movie and NOT become a cult-follower of it. Because of the enormous feedback, it seemed compulsory to do a countdown list for "One from the Heart".
Why didn't I do "One from the Heart" initially, you ask? After all, it would make sense to start with the first cup movie and then do the second. Well, I have always enjoyed "Against the Odds" much more, and I never really thought about why that was. Until now.
I think I have four major reasons why "Against the Odds" is a more enjoyable film that "One from the Heart". As well as a few brief observations. And then, of course, I have the top 15 lines from the film. Oh, and ThePensBlog stopped by to help collaborate on the piece - their comments are scattered throughout the article.
Warm up your vocal chords, Mr. Mann, cause this crazy party is about get to started.
Four main reasons keep me coming back to "Against the Odds" more frequently than "One from the Heart".
- The footage of Bob Johnson in OftH creeps me out just a little bit. In AtO, Badger Bob dies and the whole movie is underscored by the theme of a team playing for their fallen coach. This theme works marvelously. In OftH, we know Bob Johnson doesn't have much time left, yet there he is coaching and chatting up players. It has just always freaked me out a little bit.
-There are not as many spectacular goals in OftH. Yeah, Mario scores one of the best ever Against the North Stars in Game 2, but the first Stanley Cup run wasn't punctuated by the sick goals were the hallmarks of the second Cup run. Mario schooling Beaupre on an in-out-in move, Jagr's game winners, 66 going through Raymond's legs, Francis devastating the Rangers, the last three goals of Game 1 against the Blackhawks...the second Cup run was just stocked with unreal goals.
- The lack of glorification for Mario Lemieux in OftH. So many times in OftH, Earl Mann refers to how "Recchi, Stevens, and Lemieux all stepped up", or how "Stevens and Lemieux were red hot". And that is all well and good. But a little too often it seems like he is putting Lemieux on the same level as guys like Recchi and Coffey and the rest. In fact, towards the end of the movie, they have a montage about Lemieux in the same way they have one about Larry Murphy in AtO, as if to say "shit, this guy is one of the best players of all time and we really havent focused on him enough". Maybe its just me, but I dont feel like OftH goes as over-the-top as it should for Lemieux. Which brings me to my final point...
The writers were still getting warmed up in OftH. Being the first movie, everyone involved was likely eager to create a very classy piece that did justice to a great season. They did that. And, although this is an inference, I'm sure it sold like crazy. Well when the Pens won again, I am thinking that someone started thinking along these lines...You know, this tape is going to sell no matter what. Let's just go for broke here. Let's write the most ridiculous, sensationalized, hyperbolic script that mankind has ever laid eyes one. If you don't agree with me, consider this (spoiler for top lines list): in OftH, a great Craig Patrick trade is preceded by the statement "Craig patrick showed the hockey world who he was". Absurd? Yeah, a little bit. But when THE EXACT SAME SCENE occurs in AtO, what is the set up line? "With the brass of a riverboat gambler". I mean, come on. The writers were just going all out by the second film. They made their traditional championship DVD. It was now time to flex their muscles, which is how you get lines like "war horse with hands of silk".
So yeah, it's hard to say that OftH is a better film that AtO. b agrees, saying "We've got to be honest here. One From The Heart has nowhere near the great lines that Against The Odds has". Even though I dont think the lines are as great in OftH, there are still some great ones, and some great scenes. A few quick observations...
- Mark Recchi driving in his car is just hilarious for some reason. I love how he goes and gets his mail. I can just imagine the director talking to Recchi: "ok mark, you are just an average guy. you get your mail just like everyone else. you drive around just like everyone else. show me normalcy mark. show me normal". This is also a personal favorite because the scene is shot near the old neighborhood of Pirate in Search of Nuttings Chest.
- I love when the Pens score against the Bruins and Ulf goes right up to Andy Moog to celebrate in his face. Moog then slaps him with his glove. Amazing.
- Bob Erey absolutely cruuuuuuuuuuuushes Ray Bourque in the Bruins series. My lord. It is just a devastating hit.
The guys at ThePensBlog, who took much more thorough notes than I did, jotted down some other great lines I didn't include: Bob Johnson in the locker room after the Cup-clincher saying "we're proud of everyone goddamnit!", Michael Keaton saying " this is the greatest", some business guy telling us how he's "been offered a helluva lotta money for these tickets, but I aint given them up, cause it MEANS THAT MUCH TO ME", "After successful back surgery, Lemieux contracted a rare bone infection that would sideline him for the next four months. The expected collapse of the Pens...never happened", and numerous others. If you aren't reading ThePensBlog, you should.
Without further ado, the top 15 lines from "One from the Heart". Once again, order really isn't that important. Especially with the top 5. It gets pretty damn hard to pick.
15. "Late in the second period, Mario Lemieux brought a sold out Civic Arena to its feet with perhaps the most spectacular goal of the playoffs". This gets the nod ONLY because it was a sick goal. Perhaps the most spectactular goal of the playoffs? PERHAPS, Earl? Come on! If this was Against the Odds, it would have been "the goal that brought glory and freedom to a world in such desparate need of a hero". Or something like that. This line will always anger me. "Perhaps" my ass.
14. "Number 9 was a standout two way player who played both ends of the ice like each shift was his last". I mean, what more do you want from a hockey player? Isn't this everything you could want from a guy? Just a great description of a great player. God bless Ronnie Francis. (Francis was number 9 that season, if your memory doesnt go back that far).
13. "Kevin Stevens stuck his broken nose in the crease and found a way past goaltender Casey". The crease is an area of chaos. Broken noses are painful. Thus, Kevin Stevens is a man among boys.
12. "Once known as the Big bad Bruins, the Boston Garden symboically sat in a bad part of town. But the Penguins grew up in a tough neighborhood too: the Patrick Division." Divisions as neighborhoods. Thank you, Earl. Thank you.
11. "Players held the precious chalice aloft, childhood dreams fulfilled". Just a great line that accurately depicts the amazing scene of Pens smiling and raising the Cup.
10. "That championship smile was back in Pittsburgh". I just love this line for some reason - if you're team has won a championship recently, then you know what I am talking about.
9. "When a healthy Mario returned in Game 4, it was a surly Pens team that rattled the posts behind Casey". My favorite part about the delivery of this line? Earl Mann sounds surly too. He takes on the attitude of the team - it's hilarious and awesome at the same time.
8. ..."They were raised to glory by a young French-Canadian simply known as Le Magnifique". Earl delivers this line as if he is French. Is he? No, he is just a Renassiance Man. But seriously, this line gives me chills.
Comment from ThePensBlog: You don't really catch this quote in the film because Lemieux's unreal mullet in the shot encompasses all your senses.
7. "Defenseman Ulf Samuellson was a Swedish linebacker". What. A. Line. A Swedish linebacker. You wont hear a better description of Ulf. Just...wow. Phenomenal.
Comment from ThePensBlog: Ulf then starts hitting dudes while we get fed the sweetest sound effects ever created.
6. "(Mike Lange): Go for it Mario, go for it...(Steigi): hold it high buddy". This is one of the more touching points in the film, I think. Mario is carrying around the Cup for the first time, and you realize when you hear Lange and Steigi speak, that he is carrying the Cup around for them too. They put so much time and energy into the franchise that it must have been one of the most rewarding experiences in their careers. There is without question a sentimental tone in each of their voices.
Ok, the top 5 gets hard...
5. "Craig Patrick showed the hockey world WHO...HE...WAS". The emphasis on "who he was" cant be put into print. It is just hilarious.
Comment from ThePensBlog: Unreal.
4. "Then, one of the most dramatic moments of the playoffs unfolded. Pieterangelo faced the Devils Peter Stastny right on his doorstep...(F.P. makes the most amazing save of my lifetime)...the stop was so OUT-rageous, that it became simply known as...THE...SAVE." This was right in Mann's wheelhouse. The...SAVE. An amazing play. An amazing call.
Wow, now it gets really tough. I mean, geez, these are all amazingly well-written lines...
3. "This impossible season came to Saturday, May 25th in Bloomingdale, Minnesota...it was the Pittsburgh Penguins appointment...with destiny." Chillllllllllls. I know it might seem like I ripped on OftH earlier, but one thing that this movie did infinitely better than AtO is set up the Cup-clinching game. They NAILED this scene. Great music. Great lines. Just a great freaking set up.
2. The intro to the movie is just phenomenal. Otherwordly. Here are bits and pieces of it..."(talking about Lemieux)...was now a man who suddenly found himself surrounded by those foolish enough to believe in the same dream. Against all odds, they fought together, won together, and evntually, rejoiced together. It was a team with enough fate to think they could win the Stanley Cup, enough talent to keep believing, and enough heart to convince every team in their way...It was a Cinderella story that even Disney would have thought too improbable to tell." Read that again. Do it. Cherish it. That is what you want in a team, ladies and gentleman.
Comment from ThePensBlog: What an opener for this video.
1. Both DoubtAboutIt and ThePensBlog know what has to be number 1. Troy Loney is in the box for high-sticking. The Pens are holding onto a slim lead. It's the Stanley cup playoffs. Take me to a higher place, Earl..."It was here, amongst 16,000 Met Center Fanatics that the Pittsburgh Penguins discovered WHO. THEY. WERE...(footage of the penalty kill)...it was a BEAUTIFUL collective harmony of movement...it was the dance...of champions." The dance of champions. The dance of freaking champions. In referring to a penalty kill. Earl, go grab yourself a beer and take the day off.
I just reread the last three, and they all look pretty good, so I am going to throw in a bonus line and make it the best line of the movie by default...
It comes from Phil Bourque, at the point, while holding the cup in the air in front of thousands of Pittsburghers...
"Whaddya say we take this out on the river and PARTY ALL SUMMER?!?!?!?!"
God I love it. Let me know your favorites. I know I missed a lot and I purposefully didnt include a few. Also, my VHS tape is in very, VERY poor condition and some lines are hard to hear, so I might have a few wrong. Comment away.
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