ANYONE’S GAME, A.K.A. CHICKS WITH STICKS (2005)
Jessalyn Gilsig as Paula Taymore
Andrew Chalmers as Stewart “Stewie” Taymore
Margot Kidder as Edith Taymore
Kevin Kruchkywich as Ross Taymore
Pascale Hutton as Charlene
Michie Mee as Heather Desmond
Chantal Perron as Brigitte
Vanessa Holmes as Brenda
Tanya Allen as Kate
Juliette Marquis as Felicity
Natassia Maltbie as Marcie
Jason Priestley as Steve
Directed by Kari Skogland
1 hour, 38 minutes long
Rated PG in Canada; PG-13 in the United States
Canadian movies can be very good. My tour through filmed works of Tanya Allen has brought me across films I would not have watched otherwise, but am glad I did. Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks is among these. I have also noticed connections between this movie and others. For example, Kari Skogland also directed Tanya Allen in White Lies (1998), my review of which is here: https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/white-lies-1998/. And Jason Priestley was also in Fancy Dancing (2002), my review of which is here: https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/fancy-dancing-2002/.
I begin by setting up the story.
Paula Taymore is a newly single mother with a hardhat job in the small town of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. (Calgary and Okotoks substitute for Red Deer as filming locations.) Being short on money, she evades the washer repo man during the opening credits. Paula hopes for a promotion and the corresponding 20% raise at work, but this uncertain. And her alternator is on the fritz. Ross, her brother and a mechanic, has the part but not the time to replace the alternator.
A few years ago, Paula almost made the Olympic hockey team, but events, including an automobile accident involving her son, Stewart, and mother, Edith, pulled her away from the camp. She still follows the sport religiously, playing it when she can.
One night Ross arranges for Edith, the grandmother, to babysit Stewart so that Paula can play on his local hockey team against another local team, the Chiefs, who lose the game. At the gathering following the game some knuckle-dragging men make sexist comments about women’s hockey, and Paula accepts the challenge to field a women’s team to play the women’s game against the Chiefs in four weeks. Ross will keep track of the roster. And there will be money involved, with men matching any funds the women can raise.
The diverse women’s team, called the Black Widows, consists of, among others, an ex-con and a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies writing her thesis, “Wicca in the Workplace.” The Black Widows:
Marcie replaces Charlene:
The end of the movie is never in doubt, as the DVD box art gives it away. Furthermore, one of the songs in the movie is “Girl Out of the Ordinary.” In other words, one might as well chant “You go, girl!” while watching this film.
This is an unabashed hockey chick flick.
Heather Desmond is the spunky radio DJ with an urban attitude in rural west Canada. She encourages Paul’s hockey battle of the sexes.
Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in four Christopher Reeve Superman movies, does an excellent job as Paula’s supportive and spunky mother, who plays cards with her grandson and becomes the den mother to the Black Widows.
Stewart “Stewie” Taymore, who is in the Second Grade, is actually one of the two most mature males in the movie. (Most of the others spend time speculating foolishly about the menstrual cycles of the Black Widows.) The relationship between Paula and her son is quite endearing.
Jason Priestley’s Steve is the other mature male. He, also a single parent, has something in common with Paula: his daughter and Stewart have the same teacher. So Steve and Paula meet at school, between parent-teacher conferences. These two fall in love. But, more importantly, Steve has both the time and ability to replace her alternator.
Anyone’s Game/Chicks with Sticks contains both dramatic and comedic moments. It is predictable, yes, but good and harmless viewing.
You go, girls!
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 23, 2011 COMMON ERA
All images are screen captures I took using the PowerDVD program.