All right, it is “Sports Month” here at the JOE-DOWN, where we will review sports movies. Why? Because it is summer, and I associate summertime with sports. And for the fourth installment of this theme for the month, Brown picked “Youngblood.”
The Movie: “Youngblood”
Starring: Rob Lowe, Cynthia Gibb, Patrick Swayze
Director: Peter Markle
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A skilled young hockey prospect hoping to attract the attention of professional scouts is pressured to show that he can fight if challenged during his stay in a Canadian minor-league hockey town. His on-ice activities are complicated by his relationship with the coach’s daughter.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 38 percent
Brown: This has been more than a year in the making, but we are finally visiting “Youngblood.”
During our first Sports Month last summer, I picked “Youngblood,” only to switch it to “The Replacements” after we couldn’t find it on any streaming service. It’s still not streaming, but I managed to find a Patrick Swayze three-pack of movies that I bought for Froemming and myself. It also came with “Roadhouse” and “Red Dawn,” so of course we will watch those movies in future installments.
Combining Froemming’s hatred of winter sports with the ‘80s teen heartthrobs Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze, this seemed like the perfect JOE-DOWN pick after the universally-loved “Karate Kid.”
So before we leave our dirt farms for the allure of Canadian junior hockey, did you know anything about “Youngblood” before this week?
Froemming: I did not know a thing about this movie. Until last year, I had no idea this movie existed. And with a roster including Lowe, Swayze and a young Keanu Reeves, that was a shocker.
Then I watched this and understood why.
This movie is very odd, and I swore they cribbed a lot of the father-son stuff from Luke Skywalker and Uncle Owen from “A New Hope,” especially at the start of this film between Dean Youngblood and his old man. Adding to the ridiculousness of this experience, I watched this on my large TV, and I am guessing there has not been a remaster of this, because the movie just floated pretty tiny in the middle of my screen with a black border making up most of my TV and looked like a home video from the ‘80s.
Now, as I grab my shaving lotion and use my jockstrap as a doctor’s mask, Brown get us started.
Brown: So right away, this movie starts with about five minutes of a hockey montage, complete with childhood footage that “Happy Gilmore” would later rip off years later. With the credits out of the way, we are introduced to Dean Youngblood (Lowe), a 17-year-old prodigy from upstate New York who wants to become a professional hockey player and has been offered a tryout with the Hamilton Mustangs. But he’s not exactly supported at home. Dad needs him at the farm and his older brother, Kelly, once chased his hockey dream, which left him blind in one eye while stealing David Bowie’s two-toned eye look in the process.
But, Kelly understands the dream, so he talks daddy Youngblood into letting Dean go to the mythical world of Canada (the land of Molson beer and poutine) to try and achieve his hockey dream.
Froemming: I am so far north that a lot of places have poutine on their menus and it is amazing.
Now, Kelly has some bizarre advice for his kid brother as they drive up to Canada. I was upset and confused at the same time the moment he tells Dean that the Canadians will see him as a “wet back” crossing the border and stealing Canadian hockey jobs. It was such a weird thing to say, and my jaw dropped when it was said. I’m still kinda upset by that.
Brown: I hate this excuse, but it was the ‘80s. They have homophobic signs for the players later in the movie.
So, Youngblood is in the midst of a tryout, and despite being undersized, he is shredding through the other prospects with his speed. After all, he scored 92 goals in the New York League, so he should be a shoo-in, right? Well, not exactly. The other prospect the coaches are looking at is Carl Racki, who racked up 300 penalty minutes in his last league and is a hoss compared to the 160-pound Youngblood.
Trying to prove his worth, Racki checks Youngblood hard into the boards and knocks the teenager out with one punch when the two get into a scuffle. Between this and “Karate Kid,” we are watching a lot of adult-to-teenager violence on the JOE-DOWN.
In a touch I like, we see the dire straits that the life of junior hockey has when the team’s seamstress is also the team’s doctor as he stitches up Youngblood after he was picked by coach Murray Chadwick to play for the Mustangs.
I must say, it was probably jarring for ‘80s teenagers to see a brute scar up the immaculate face of Rob Lowe. Racki is truly a monster.
Froemming: Given Rob Lowe’s questionable history, in some respect it was well deserved.
Now, we also meet some of the other players, who haze Youngblood because sports and whatnot. The leader is Derek Sutton (Swayze with a mane of hair that sparks fear and envy into his rivals), who is a good-natured guy with a pension for pranks — and alcohol. Derek loves his Molson.
In the locker room, Racki gets a little angry about not making the team and makes a scene. This leads to Youngblood following him as Racki leaves like a weird serial killer in his jockstrap and armed with a hockey stick. And I must say I saw way too much of Rob Lowe’s bare ass in this film.
As he is standing in the hall with his ass hanging out like a (REDACTED) weirdo, we meet Jessie Chadwick, daughter of our coach. And if we thought the awkward stares between Ali and Daniel in “The Karate Kid” was creepy, the ones these two share throughout the movie is downright scary.
Brown: Well, when the first time you meet someone is them standing out in a hallway with nothing but a jockstrap on hoping to fight someone, I don’t know how you’re supposed to look at someone other than “Wow, he’s cute… great butt… but he looks like he may want to kill me.”
So hockey skills aren’t the only way that Youngblood is going to endear himself to his new teammates. In a moment that’s pure ‘80s because today’s world would disband the Hamilton Mustangs for such an act, the team holds down Youngblood for some good ol’ fashioned hazing and shaves his testicles with a straight-edge razor. All I could think of is the scene from the first Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil explains how he had the same thing done to him as a teenager and found it breathtaking.
Also, Sutton is wearing his own jockstrap as a surgical mask. Dude, this is junior hockey. I’d be shocked if there was a washer and dryer on site. You’re most certainly getting pinkeye.
Froemming: I can finally tell the world I watched a movie where Patrick Swayze shaved the balls of Rob Lowe.
Well, Dean also needs to get situated in his new apartment, run by Ms. McGill. Ms. McGill is a woman who just sleeps with everyone on the hockey team because the script demanded it! It was creepy to say the least that she pounces on this 17-year-old kid. The creepiness ramped up to 11 when Keanu Reeve’s character, Heaver, is watching and I hear him speak in the most ridiculous French Canadian accent ever to grace film. Also, Reeves is Canadian and should have known better. He sounds like Mushmouth with a stutter.
Brown: I swear, the casting director probably looked at Keanu Reeves and thought “Hey, he played goalie in real life. He’s perfect.” Then, he was asked, on set, to do a French Canadian accent. What we saw in the film was his first and second time trying such an accent. And it’s magical in how comically bad his efforts were.
As for Ms. McGill, she’s a jersey chaser (or a “puck bunny” in hockey terms). “Bull Durham” did the same thing two years later and people praise that movie up and down. I wasn’t as bothered by it as you were, Froemming.
Froemming: Youngblood is 17. That is what creeped me out.
Brown: *Googles age of consent in Canada… 16* Do with that what you will.
Froemming: Still weird.
Brown: I don’t disagree.
Now that Youngblood is clean-shaven and on good terms with his teammates, the crew all goes out for a drink. Hold on… *Googles legal drinking age in Canada… 19 in Ontario, Hamilton’s provence* … That puts a different spin on this scene.
So, we get the Mustangs getting plastered in the local watering hole. They mess with the locals by using the false top row of teeth from someone who is sadly probably in his 20s. And they get Youngblood LOADED on tequila shots while the rest of them toss their shots over their shoulders.
Yeah, hockey practice the next day is bound to be miserable.
Froemming: I had flashbacks to our college days…
Also, the girls they are flirting with toss their Bloody Marys over their shoulder, as well. Hot teake here: Bloody Marys being consumed after 1 p.m. should be illegal.
Brown: I 100 percent disagree with that. You stop drinking Bloodys after happy hour.
Froemming: *sadly shakes head* Anyway, I hate those things and am always baffled when I see them being consumed at night — or in general.
Youngblood is a hot mess at practice, to the amusement of his fellow teammates and to the chagrin of Coach Chadwick. Like the coach says, this isn’t a community center team, this is the juniors, kid!
Following this, Youngblood is stalking Jessie. Even creepier, he walks up to her outside of a horror movie being played at the theater.
Brown: We’re in Canada. It’s a theatre. We’ll also refer to colors as colours. And we use the metric system now.
Froemming: I refuse to throw random “U”s and placing “R”s in strange places. This is America buddy, you can head to Russia/Trump Tower with the other dirty communists!
Also, Jessie Chadwick, this isn’t Dean Youngblood. This man is Ted Bundy. He literally stalks her to a general store. But Jessie is also creepy here because she is counter-stalking Dean. These two are so strange I guess they make a perfect, creepy couple.
Brown: You and I are both painfully single, so I can see why you mistake flirting with stalker behavior. And to be fair, there is a thin line.
Honestly, I enjoy this scene. Aside from Youngblood sporting his finest Canadian tuxedo (denim jacket, denim pants for those not in the know), I think we can relate to this scene in a way. We both lived in small farming communities (you in Worthington, Minn., me in Marshall, Minn.) and I know I wandered the streets sometimes wondering what the (REDACTED) to do with my free time as a young man. We didn’t creep on girls like Youngblood, but I get trying to fight off boredom when the town you’re in consists of one Main Street and barely anything else.
While it’s all fun and games, Coach Chadwick sees Youngblood and Jessie walking around together and shoots it down. Turns out, Jessie is the coach’s daughter. Uh oh. They shouldn’t date. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that teenagers never, ever disobey their parents’ wishes.
Froemming: Jessie buys Youngblood a copy of “Moby Dick,” a book about man’s hubris. Youngblood also buys a book, “Nympho,” because he loves his pornography.
And this sets up a pretty decent laugh. When the coach confronts them, Dean tells him his daughter bought him a book and holds up his porn book. That is something I am sure the father will never be able to burn out of his brain and will haunt him for the rest of his days.
Well, we get to Dean’s first proper game with the team. We see, much like in “Varsity Blues,” the cortisone shots are being handed out like candy. But what the heck, huh? It was the ‘80s!
And Dean gets on the ice and, what do you know, after having a brief argument with Derek about not passing the puck, Youngblood makes his first score with the team! And Derek hands him the score-winning puck, because he is a classy guy.
Brown: Makes his first score? Score-winning puck? Oh Froemming, it’s cute when you try sports.
Froemming: I am terrible with sports. I have never made that a secret.
But because Coach Chadwick is pissed this punk kid is hanging around his daughter (purchasing porno with her as well), he benches Youngblood for the rest of the game. Which in turn gets Youngblood all ticked off. Angry to the point he throws what can only be called a “childish (REDACTED) temper tantrum” (he has many, many of these in the film) and throws the puck away. I found Youngblood at times grating. It doesn’t help that outside of “Parks and Rec” and “Wayne’s World,” I find Rob Lowe awful.
Brown: I’ve always liked Rob Lowe ever since I saw him in “Wayne’s World.”
Now that hockey is out of the way, Youngblood goes to hit on Jessie more as she drives the zamboni around the Mustangs’ home rink. Youngblood decides that if he’s going to be punished for allegedly dating Jessie, he may as well date her so the punishment fits the crime. So they go to an open skate with a lot of old people and start shenanigans with the guy in charge of safety.
After making a man do a faceplant into a cake, naturally, the two have sex. Ms. McGill walks in on them. Good ol’ cheeky ‘80s fun.
Then we walk into Sutton’s SUPER ‘80s apartment, where our rookie has a chat (and a Molson) with Sutton, who also takes Youngblood’s stitches out before the big game against the Thunder Bay Bombers. They also have an extended chat about how far they want to go in their hockey careers. Sutton, who we find out has a heart of gold, has played in junior for four years and yet his dreams haven’t wavered.
Froemming: There is a brief moment when Sutton seems a little jaded, but when asked, he says he still loves being on the ice every time. Swayze is the MVP of this movie for me.
Well, now we head to Thunder Bay, where the beer flows just as smoothly as the homophobia. And we see that Carl Racki has joined the Thunder Bay Bombers. And let’s face it, this seems like the Alabama of Canada. The team is made entirely of goons, and fists get thrown every five seconds of this game. And Racki is the team’s head psychopath.
Brown: They are in Game 1 of a best-of-three series for the Memorial Cup and things go off the rails quickly in the opener. We got a bench-clearing brawl where all Youngblood gets is a bruise on his cheek. We get a Mustang ejected when he starts firing pucks at a ref (that act would get him blackballed from every hockey organization ever). Hell, even Coach Chadwick gets into a fight with a fan.
Honestly, this part of the movie devolves into an unintentionally funny “Slap Shot.” To be fair, “Slap Shot” is probably my favorite sports movie, so I did enjoy it.
Froemming: If every hockey game was like this, I would probably go to a game. Looks like fun.
Brown: But after Sutton scores the game-winning goal (with Youngblood providing an assist), Racki attacks Sutton, socking him from behind. Sutton’s helmet flies off and he hits the ice head-first, leaving a puddle of blood on Youngblood’s hand. You didn’t fight Racki and now Sutton’s blood is on your hands… real subtle, movie…
And what does Racki get in this? A one-game suspension… Todd Bertuzzi did practically the same thing to Steve Moore in the NHL and Bertuzzi was suspended 20 games.
Froemming: Holy crap did I cringe at Derek falling on his head. I almost never get bothered by violence, but that was a rare moment when I knew it was coming and it still creeped me out.
Brown: Shaken by the whole incident and Coach Chadwick trying to brush it aside with a full-contact practice, Youngblood walks out on the team.
Back to the mud farm he goes.
Froemming: I get where he is coming from. But the coach needs the team to be ready if that is how Thunder Bay rolls. This was yet another temper tantrum by Youngblood.
Before he heads back to his farming of mud, he and Jessie have a little talk, where she is spouting her liberal (REDACTED) about not fighting and all that. The ‘80s took a real hard right in cinema, making anyone who didn’t like pointless violence appear to be a wimp not worthy of Chuck Norris driving a truck into a mall and gunning down terrorists.
Brown: Don’t worry. Kelly speaks for the ‘80s as he berates his little brother for quitting his hockey team and being a wimp. Sutton got hurt. Hockey has inherent danger, even if Racki did go for a cheap shot. Even after being blinded in one eye, Kelly would do anything to have a shot at playing pro hockey again. And, despite being a hardass, Chadwick is a former NHL All-Star with the New York Rangers. If anyone will give Dean a chance at the pros, it’s him.
But, Dean is set on mud farming. Until one day, he starts punching the heavy bag in the farm and Kelly gives him some pointers.
Well, this movie took a lot of cues from “Slap Shot,” so why not steal a working out montage in a barn like “Rocky IV”?
We get a final tip from Dean’s dad (played by 20-year NHL veteran Eric Nesterenko), who gives Dean some pointers about fighting on the ice.
Froemming: It was a nice moment between
Uncle Owen and Luke Skywalker these two, only for Dean to throw yet another temper tantrum by yelling at his dad about why he never taught him how to fight. The old man has a great reason: He didn’t want another son of his injured.
But hey, we need to get to the Mustangs’ home game against the Bombers and the sociopaths who play for the team!
Dean, now with a day and a half of training on a heavy bag and on skates, is ready to fight Racki — look, even Daniel in “Karate Kid” had a more believable two months of training than this. But whatever, Dean Youngblood is here to play. He just has to be allowed on the team he walked away from.
Brown: No coach would let a player back on the team after quitting on them during the championship series. However, MOVIE MAGIC.
And who tells Chadwick to let Youngblood play? Why, it’s Sutton, who is in the locker room to watch the team play. And it’s actually a touching scene from Swayze, as he tearfully tells Youngblood to go win the game instead of going after Racki’s head. You’re right, Swayze is the MVP of this movie.
We’re tied in the game and Chadwick is (rightfully, in my opinion) not playing Youngblood. But like he’s done all movie, once Youngblood gets on the ice, no one can touch him. He tallies the first goal of the game.
All I could think of any time Youngblood was on the ice is how much he’d thrive in today’s NHL, where hitting and fighting isn’t nearly as commonplace and he’s not surrounded by a Thunder Bay team that’s constructed of nothing but goons like the Syracuse Bulldogs before it.
Froemming: Yup, hockey is pretty boring these days.
But Dean has a surprise: His father and brother show up to watch him play. And even when Thunder Bay and its goons keep going after him on the ice, when a guy starts mocking Dean from the stands, his brother jumps to his defense by threatening him and pointing out his girth.
The ‘80s man. What a weird era.
But Youngblood, to his credit, is not out there to fight Racki, he is there to win. And Racki is getting frustrated by this. To the point where the game is tied with three seconds left and he trips Youngblood, allowing him to make the game-winning goal.
Brown: Youngblood is awarded a penalty shot, and he dekes the goalie out of his skates for a goal, putting the Mustangs ahead 2-1 with seconds to go. With the championship in hand, Coach Chadwick pulls Youngblood off the ice so Racki doesn’t attack him. But Youngblood, who has gotten his way the whole game, decides he should get a chance at Racki. After all…
And so the buzzer sounds, the Mustangs are Memorial Cup champs, but the celebration will have to wait because we got a donnybrook to solve at center ice between Youngblood and
Ogie Oglethorpe Racki.
It’s a weird start to a hockey fight because they fight with their sticks like it’s a sword fight.
Froemming: Good thing Youngblood got that day of training, otherwise he might have lost to this brawler who has been known for his violence for quite some time. Racki gets his butt handed to him by a 160-pound, 17-year-old mud farmer from New York. Racki wasn’t meant for this sport, I guess.
Brown: The fight should have ended sooner than it did when Racki hit the ground. The refs are supposed to break it up then. Instead, Racki gets back up and gets knocked out again. The only thing missing was the “Uhh Uhh” knockout sound from “Street Fighter.”
After scoring the game-winning goal and committing assault and battery, Youngblood is hoisted onto his teammates’ shoulders in victory.
In the aftermath, Youngblood soaks in the moment, signs some autographs for some youngsters who want to follow in his bloody, bloody skate tracks, and Jessie comes around for one final embrace as the credits roll and the ‘80s-ass music plays.
Now that my blood lust is quenched, let’s hop on our zambonis and drive over to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Yes. This movie is the perfect cheesy ‘80s elixir for me. It’s the kind of movie you’d watch on TBS or some other random cable channel on a rainy weekend.
Froemming: Yup. It is not the best movie I have sat through, but I was entertained. Swayze was the MVP of it, while Rob Lowe played a poor man’s Luke Skywalker. I say check it out.