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r-TIFF-BREAKAWAY-large570Two things occurred to me while I watched “Breakaway,” a new hockey comedy set against Toronto’s cultural mosaic. 1. Russell Peters does the worst drunk impression ever. 2. Only one letter separates the word “hokey” from “hockey.”

Vinay Virmani plays Rajveer Singh a first generation Canadian with a passion for hockey and a father (Anupam Kher) who wants him to join the family trucking business. Determined to follow his dream, he cobbles together a team, the Speedy Singhs, and takes on the reigning Hyundai Cup champs. Cultures clash on and off the ice as his traditional father pushes him toward devotion and truck driving and the predominantly white hockey league looks down on his team.

It’s amazing that a country which professes to love hockey makes such lame movies about the sport. Ripe with sports clichés—goals scored just as the buzzer rings, determined underdogs and a life flashing in front of a player’s eyes as they storm down the ice—bad puns—Mahatma Gretzky anyone?—and jokes so old they were moldy when Bob and Bing used them seventy years ago—“You just have to stay positive.” “Oh, I’m positive. Positive we’re going to embarrass ourselves!”—“Breakaway” isn’t so much a story but a place where sport movie truisms go to die. The movie has some heart, but feels like an echo of many other sports movies, most noticeably “Bend it Like Beckham.”

There is probably a good movie to be made about the colour wall of hockey, or the first generation Canadian experience of the game but “Breakaway” isn’t it.

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