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Picks and Pans Review: Youngblood

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Eric Nesterenko, a former National Hockey League player, plays Rob Lowe’s father in this movie. He also served as the film’s hockey consultant. From the look of the resulting series of donnybrooks, the producers would have been better off retaining Muhammad Ali. After a promising beginning, with some funny lines and cute banter between Lowe and Cynthia (TV’s Fame) Gibb, Youngblood becomes anemic real quick. Lowe plays the title character, a 17-year-old New York farm boy whose only career choices are to spread manure the rest of his life “or play hockey in front of 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden.” Opting for the latter, Lowe goes to Canada to try out for the mythical Hamilton Mustangs. He is obviously Rookie-of-the-Year material. In his first week he makes the team, makes love to the coach’s daughter (Gibb) and makes a lot of enemies. The league he plays in seems more like a training ground for Saturday night wrestling bouts than the NHL. Lowe, who gets slapped around more than the puck, asks Gibb, “Where else can I get beaten up every day by a bunch of prima donna Canadians?” Frustrated, he quits. But cue the Rocky-like sound track for the pep talk and training scenes back at the farm, and you guessed it. Lowe returns for the championship game, and, well, you guessed it again. The end of this movie is so unimaginative that writer-director Peter (Hot Dog: The Movie) Markle, a former Yale hockey player, should get a misconduct penalty. (R)