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Kevin Smith finds movie inspiration through hockey

Saturday, 10.29.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Kevin Smith finds movie inspiration through hockey
Kevin Smith pays homage to hockey with not one, but two movies.
Kevin Smith is the first person to admit that he's far from a "sports guy."

However, the award-winning filmmaker not only has dedicated himself to the game of hockey, he's announced that his final movie -- actually, movies -- will be hockey-themed.

Smith currently is working on the script for "Hit Somebody," which is based on the Warren Zevon song of the same name. The song tells the fictional story of Buddy McCracken, who dreams of scoring a goal in a game, but instead, is used by teams more for his fists.

"I'm in a great position. I get to say what I want to say about growing up and moving on professionally, entering one's career -- in this case hockey. And be more brutally honest about it."
-- Kevin Smith

Nicholas Braun, who recently starred in Smith's horror film "Red State," will play McCracken. Also appearing in the films will be renowned actors John Goodman, Michael Parks and Alan Rickman -- all of whom also have worked with Smith on previous projects.

While working on the screenplay, Smith decided that rather than shorten the script, he would enlarge it -- citing Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films as an example -- and make two movies. He plans on filming both at the same time, possibly in the summer of 2012, in and around Detroit.

"This is my last movie," Smith told NHL.com. "I'm going to write what feels like a 200-page screenplay and I'm going to have to go back and take out 80 pages, minimum? Why should I have to do that on my last flick? Do it right. To tell the whole story I want to tell, if that's going to require a longer script, then so be it. Then I said instead of making it one long script, why not make it two movies and turn it into unofficially 'Home' and 'Away.' The first movie takes place from 1950 to 1972. The first movie ends with him stepping onto the ice for his first professional moment, in the IHA, the Independent Hockey Association, and then the second movie begins and goes from 1972 to 1980, his entire professional career."

Smith said he envisions the first film receiving a PG-13 rating, while the second film likely will receive an R.

"The first movie is, tonally and in terms of what we're talking about, in terms of language, 'Hit Somebody,' the first script, thus far would easily be a PG-13 movie," he said. "Now, that's great because you're dealing with childhood most of the time. But if you're talking about a professional sport ... essentially I can tell this one beautiful, PG-13, halcyon days of youth, ode to Canada, valentine to the land and the game that they gave birth to. And then on the second bite of the apple, go 'Raging Bull,' go R-rated.

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"We're talking ... Broad Street Bullies era. You can definitely get away with physical violence in a PG-13 movie, but it feels like, go for it, honor it. I can have my cake and eat it, too."

Smith had said previously he wanted to publish the script online, and while those plans haven't changed, he said the final decision on that will come in conjunction with whoever finances the film.

"We're still talking about that," Smith said. "I want to make sure the people that are sniffing around about financing, it doesn't make them squeamish."

Smith said his goal is to have the second part of the script finished by January. In the meantime, when he's not writing about hockey, he's watching it. A New Jersey native, he's a passionate Devils fan. He also gushes over Wayne Gretzky, and at most of his public appearances wears a hockey jersey touting his online radio station in vintage 1980s Edmonton Oilers blue and orange.

Frequently on tour promoting either his movies or his podcasting network, Smith has become a big fan of NHL GameCenter Live, where fans can watch their favorite teams online no matter where they are, as well as condensed games and classic games in The Vault.

"I live on my laptop anyway," Smith said. "That's the perfect way to watch it. I'm happy to report that it works, it's fluid. You watch a game as it happens on your laptop and you feel like you're George Jetson. This is insane."

Smith said he's already become a fan of Oilers rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had a hat trick in just his third NHL game.

"The Oilers game that I saw, against the Pens, and they wound up winning, it was really cool," Smith said. "And Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got his first goal -- that was sweet. And him on the same line with (Taylor) Hall, you start to go maybe there's a youth movement here that's resembling (the dynasty Oilers). You never want to pile on, and a lot of cats are going, 'He could be the next (Gretzky)' about Nugent-Hopkins, but you get caught up and you get thrilled by the notion that maybe all the elements are clicking in a certain way."

Smith hopes all those elements click for him with his new movie -- er, movies.

"I'm in a great position," Smith said. "I get to say what I want to say about growing up and moving on professionally, entering one's career -- in this case hockey. And be more brutally honest about it. When one looks back at youth, especially in middle age, it's all glow and beauty, 'Those were the days,' and what a great time. As I write the professional stuff for the character, which I'm closer to in my real life now, still in my professional career ... you get to be a lot more warts and all. I'm using hockey to parallel film. I'm happy because I get two different tastes that hopefully taste great together."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players