“If she can see it, she can be it” is the mantra of women’s sports right now. In order for that mantra to truly take root in our society, we should also see “it” in media and in pop culture. With that in mind, I set out to find feature films or made-for-TV movies that featured girls’ and/or women’s hockey.
After consulting Twitter, I came up with a list of eight movies that basically fit that criteria. I then watched seven of the eight — you’ll have to wait to find out which one I didn’t watch — and graded them. Today, we’re looking at the “top four.”
Take Off 2
Take Off 2 is a Korean film from 2006 inspired by the real life story of the South Korean women’s hockey team. The original Take Off is about a ski jump team, not sure why they just stuck a 2 behind the hockey edition and went with it, but hey, here we are.
Would you believe me if I said that poop was a factor in turning the team around? Well, a seemingly random “never trust a fart” scene was the turning point in a movie that’s inspired by the real life story of the South Korean women’s hockey team.
It is one part League of their Own and one part Mighty Ducks, complete with the deadbeat, disgraced coach and a ragtag team of assorted players.
But really, it’s the most complete movie on the list. The plot makes sense, although there are definitely some holes, and it flows well. The writing is good. It hits all the right notes. The hockey scenes feel natural and are well shot and well executed.
Off the ice, the side plot centered on one of the players — one of the star players who defected from North Korea — will hit you right in the feels.
On the ice, watching the players come together (because of course you already knew that they came together from a team of misfits into a team that can hang with the seventh-best team in the world) is great to munch popcorn to. The training scenes are also great — complete with a player who has literally never skated before and a speed skater learning how to turn right.
You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll cheer. You’ll want to figure out how to buy the DVD so you can watch it whenever you want. This isn’t a women’s hockey movie, it’s truly just a hockey movie.
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In the interest of full disclosure, I did not rewatch this movie because I did not need to go on this emotional ride for a second time — Bing Bong, Bing Bong.
The Disney Pixar animated film centers around Riley, an 11-year-old hockey player whose life is uprooted when her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. The majority of the film takes place in Riley’s head as five main emotions run amok while she tries to deal with the major life change.
This is definitely not a typical hockey movie — but Riley is a hockey player, and that heavily factors into the movie. Hockey is part of her Core Memories, one that gets reshaped throughout the film. It shows the impact hockey can have on a young girl and what the sport means to her.
Have the tissues ready for this movie. Bing Bong, Bing Bong.
How to watch: DVD or Disney+ or various other streaming services if you Google it.
We have to start off with the fact that this made-for-TV movie has three different titles and a fascinating backstory. The working title — which you can actually still find it under — was “Chicks With Sticks.” It also can be found under the title “Paula’s Power Play,” a word play on the plot. “Hockey Mom” isn’t that much better, but at least it’s not the working title.
Now, about the movie itself. You have to get through the first 70 minutes before the last 10–15 minutes redeem it. Listen, I know that’s asking a lot, but trust me, it’s worth it.
The general plot is pretty straightforward. Paula is a former player who *almost* made the Olympics, and the emphasis on the “almost” is hers. She’s a single mom who lives with her son in the same town as her brother and her mom. She plays pickup hockey with her brother and a local beer league team, with all the usual talk of women can’t play, blah blah blah. So she makes them a bet that a team of women will beat that local beer league team.
That’s about it for the plot. There’s a few other “side plots” that never really make sense. The love interest who has a daughter we never see. There’s a lot about money: both Paula not having it and then something like the team needing it only to have it stolen ... and then getting it back? I got lost in that side plot. There’s also something where the women’s team wanted to go pro? I was a little confused as it was another random, unfulfilled side plot. However, it does lead to a mention of an actual women’s hockey team; one that was in existence until last year!
The hockey scenes are good (and we’ve all seen some bad hockey scenes), especially The Game at the end. The writing could use some — or, well, a lot — of work. And, although the side plots are definitely a mess, the main story is pretty solid.
In a movie with the basic premise that women’s hockey is a joke, women’s hockey isn’t treated as a joke. That might be the most striking thing about this film. This movie was released in 2010, and honestly, if you told me it was made this year I wouldn’t be surprised. There was talk of playing for the youth, etc., etc., etc.
I’m on the fence about recommending this movie. It toes that line of being so bad that it’s good and then actually being good. It’s probably best watched in a group where you can make running commentary.
How to watch: The DVD was less than $10 on Amazon.
This 1980s made-for-TV Canadian movie tops out at about 75 minutes long.
The plot is fairly basic. New girl moves to hockey-crazed town where there’s no girls’ team. So she tries out for the boys’ team and makes it, as a goaltender. She’s the OG Julie the Cat Gaffney. The tension in the movie stems from the team’s sponsor and the head of the league not being thrilled with a girl being on the team, of course.
I’ll let you guess where it goes from there, but I will say there was a forced preteen/teen romance plot. What a shocker. The “boyfriend” is supposedly some phenom who, and I quote, is supposed to be in the NHL by 17. The hockey scenes weren’t bad and, like in some of the other movies I watched, a lot of the issues still ring true today.
Another great line: “You think Wayne Gretzky plays baseball” shouted by the main character as she ran away crying.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. It was clearly made-for-TV in that it’s basic and straightforward. Good for kids and families.
How to watch: YouTube