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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
When you get your shot, give it your all. What you put in, you get out.
Positive Role Models
The teen hockey players, including the state's star athlete, are down to earth, grateful, focused. One student athlete talks about why keeping up with his studies and getting good grades is important. Another reflects on the trouble he was in a couple of years before filming and expresses his deep regret, how it's affected him negatively, and how he now has to work twice as hard to overcome others' view of him.
Takes place in a rural, blue-collar community.
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Violence & Scariness
Brawl between two teams on the ice, which results in quite a few penalties. Roughhousing. A player's parent battles a serious illness.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens slow-dance together at a school dance. Talk of girlfriends.
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Strong language from adults and players during a game: "ass," "goddamned," "piss," "pr--ks," "s--t," and multiple uses of "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hockeyland is a documentary about high school hockey in rural Minnesota. It's focused on two schools, one of legendary but dwindling status, the other a rising giant. Other than a midgame brawl that lands many of the players in the penalty box, the only iffy content is strong language. Coaches and players keep it fairly clean except on game day -- then they let the foul words fly ("ass," "pr--ks," "f--k," etc.). One player's parent is battling cancer throughout filming. The teens embody the phrase "Life is hockey; hockey is life." They come from working-class families, and they channel their uncertainty about what life might be like after their final season into their training: They work hard and leave it all on the ice. They're positive role models who demonstrate the value of teamwork, resilience, and grit and find joy in their sport and their fellow teammates. Adult viewers may appreciate the message that being involved in the team helps keep some of the kids out of trouble. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary falls short of all-star status -- although, as one might say about an athlete, what writer-director Tommy Haines lacks in talent, he makes up for with heart and passion. The filmmaking in Hockeyland isn't strong, and it's often difficult to tell which team is being discussed and which shaggy-haired blond kid is which. The camera is jerky and all over the place. The editing needs edits. And the audience doesn't quite know who to root for: There's no clear protagonist. Perhaps Haines started out following one story, but it didn't quite pan out, so he ended with a different one. Regardless, a lot of storylines miss the net.
But these teens shine. Their dedication to their sport is impressive and aspirational. And it's impossible not to feel their parents' pride. Haines does seem to have realized a challenge he faced with his subjects: Student athletes prepping for the big leagues are often boring. They spend all day in practice and go to sleep early. But Haines overcomes this by capturing their moments of friendship, of levity, of worry, and of communion. It's unlikely this documentary will win any competitions, but there are still worthy moments for viewers of Hockeyland.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.