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Review: Terry Sawchuk biopic ‘Goalie’ renders life of former NHL star (and L.A. King) inertly

Mark O’Brien, left, and Kevin Pollak in the movie ‘Goalie’
Mark O’Brien, left, and Kevin Pollak in the movie “Goalie.”
(Dark Star Pictures)

Back in the 1950s and early ’60s, when the NHL had only six teams, goaltender Terry Sawchuk was a certified hockey legend.

Over the course of his two-decade career playing on four of the “original six” (and later, the expansion Los Angeles Kings in their first season), Sawchuk amassed some notable stats, including 115 shutouts and 400 stitches to the face. But his life off the ice wasn’t as stellar — years of alcoholism and untreated depression would eventually lead to an unfortunate altercation resulting in the father of seven’s untimely death at age 40.

Those physical and psychological scars are fully on display in Adriana Maggs’ “Goalie,” a probing though ponderously episodic drama that ultimately feels as stitched together as Sawchuk’s frequently unmasked mug.

Incorporating elements from the authorized biography, “Sawchuck: The Troubles and Triumphs of the World’s Greatest Goalie,” along with passages from “Night Work,” a collection of Sawchuk-inspired poetry by the director’s father, Nathan Maggs, the film is effectively anchored by Mark O’Brien’s lead performance.

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His committed turn, and those of Georgina Reilly as his long-suffering wife, Pat, and Kevin Pollak, as colorful Detroit Red Wings general manager Jack Adams, help distract from those cartoonish jersey logos, which, for legal reasons, stand in for the real deal.

While avoiding the usual sports movie tropes, the Canadian production eventually succumbs to its own design, delivering disconnected vignettes in lieu of a compelling, linear storyline.

Dramatically speaking, despite its loftier ambitions, “Goalie” remains stuck in the neutral zone.

‘Goalie’
Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 7, Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood

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