I'd pretty much given up on the National Lampoon brand after the recent "Spring Break", which was not a film as much as a mindless infomerical for their tour packages. "Pucked", while nothing award-worthy, is at least a step back in the right direction for the brand. Under the direction of Arthur Hiller (yes, "Love Story" director Arthur Hiller - apparently, "Love Story" doesn't mean never having to say, "I'll direct a B-movie."), "Pucked" gets a few mild laughs, which is a step up from recent efforts from the brand.
Jon Bon Jovi plays Frank, a former lawyer who's given up law for trying to attempt to get various inventions and ideas off-the-ground, such as "The Worldwide Women's Hockey League". Armed with hardly any money, a bunch of credit cards and his pal Carl (David Faustino of "Married...With Children")'s assistance, Frank tries to get his dream of women's hockey turned into a reality.
So, using a ton (there appears to be well over a hundred) of credit cards that will eventually come due, Frank rents out a rink, pulls some teams together and...never really gets to have much success. Frank also manages to woo lawyer Jessica (Estella Warren) away from her boyfriend, while Carl gets to date the female hockey teams' tank of a star, Wendy (Dot Jones.) Of course, before the league's first game is even over, the feds decend on Frank, who winds up on trial for credit card fraud (the movie takes place in flashback, with Carl recalling the tale to a janitor as they wait for the jury's verdict on Frank's trial (Curtis Armstrong).
Amusing in unintentional, ridiculous ways (Frank is told that he "used to be a damn good lawyer", which makes the character's incredibly dim actions in the film rather laughable and bizarre), it's stunning that this script took FOUR credited writers to come up with, as it often seems like it could have been written by a computer program.
The lazy screenwriting (co-writer Matty Simmons was one of the writers of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure", truly one of the most incredibly awful films I've ever seen) also results in a few other unintentional chuckles along the way, including the absurd "happy ending", which is, quite possibly, the most sloppily written, "we don't care, we just want to wrap the picture" ending ever. The less said about how Frank actually argues his case against the credit card companies (essentially, "It's their fault."), the better. The expected nudity (a Lampoon's staple) is thrown in on a couple of occasions.
Credit director Hiller (aside from "Love Story", Hiller also directed the original "The Out-of-Towners" and "The In-Laws") for getting passable performances out of Warren (who I've always thought to be a decent actress who deserved better) and Faustino (who, quite honestly, is playing a character that might as well have been his "Married...With Children" character ten years later.) Bon Jovi, on the other hand, appears board and is unconvincing to the point of comedy as a lawyer-turned-slacker.
This is by no means a great (or good, and decent is even being generous) film but "Pucked" at least is a slight return from the gutter for the "National Lampoon" brand, which hasn't been truly in its prime since the '80's. Maybe the brand should stick to Spring Break tours, instead.
VIDEO: "Pucked" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality was just average, as the picture did show some mild concerns (some wear on the elements used, some slight artifacting and a little bit of edge enhancement) at times throughout the show. Sharpness and detail weren't terrific, but the picture at least maintained reasonably pleasing definition throughout. Colors looked somewhat flat, but that may have been how this film has always looked.
SOUND: The 5.1 soundtrack offered no noticable surround use, remaining dialogue-driven throughout the show. Audio quality was fine, with clear, undistorted dialogue.
EXTRAS: Two "making of" featurettes that show more nudity, as well as trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: A low-budget mix of sports comedy and courtroom comedy, "Pucked" took four writers to come up with...not much. While the film did offer a laugh or two (and it's nice to see Warren on-screen again, even if it's in a B-movie like this), the film's comedy is mainly unintentional. The DVD offers fair audio/video quality, along with a couple of minor extras. Unless you're a big fan of those involved, skip it.
The Film C-