One of the benefits of living across the street from Canada is getting CBC on basic cable. Not only are we blessed with Hockey Night in Canada but every once in awhile we’re treated to Canadian made-for-TV movies.
I want to personally thank everyone at CBC Television for producing “Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story.”
The title itself gives me great joy. It implies that Grapes’ nickname is “The Keep Your Head Up Kid.” There’s no comma to tell me otherwise and I’m OK with that. He’s like Steve McQueen, Robert Redford or Shawn Michaels.
However, we find out early on that evil coach Eddie Shore has a new nickname for Cherry: Madagascar.
Handing out nicknames that don’t make any sense is just one of the crazy quirks we learn about Shore and the more we learn, the more we realize how damn unlikable he really is. We see him tie a noose around his goalie’s neck and then tie it to the goal post while Shore takes shots on him. The lesson? Don’t go down. Eddie Shore single-handedly delayed the evolution of the butterfly-style goaltender.
When Cherry’s team goes on a losing streak, Shore calls a meeting and demands that both the players and their wives attend. The message: The wives have been “giving the players too much sex” and only abstinence will change the team’s fortunes on the ice. What Cherry tells us in a voice over (using his Canadianized Ray Liotta from “Goodfellas” accent) is that the team lost their next four games. The picture painted of Shore is somewhere between Lucifer and Mr. Magoo.
Jared Keeso really is spectacular as Cherry, though. You might recognize Keeso from his roles as Agent Nichols in “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball” and as Dustin in “I Love You, Beth Cooper.” He is not, in fact, a younger version of Chris O’Donnell. As we can see from this clip from “Batman & Robin,” O’Donnell can actually act.
We also discover why the Canadian health care system works so well. All it takes to cure a broken toe is to interchangeably dunk it in buckets of hot and cold water. I plan on trying this out someday.
Through it all, in his days as a player, life was tough for Don Cherry. But, naturally, through hard work and determination, he found his calling: teaching 10-year-old defensemen how to effectively interfere with a forward skating down the wing. And God bless ’em all with their no visors and no mercy mentality.
I’m excited about Part Two, which deals with his coaching career and his love affair with Bobby Orr. For once, I’m really happy “House” is a repeat tonight.