Tag Archives: The Rocket

Rocket Makes Its Own Luck

The Rocket

by Hope Madden

The Rocket, an Australian film set in Laos, is a deviously familiar movie. It deposits a well-worn storyline in an unusual context, not to prove the universality of the human condition, but to draw attention to our cultural differences.

According to his tribe’s beliefs, Ahlo (the vibrant talent Sitthiphon Disamoe) should have been killed at birth. He is a twin – the brother of a stillborn – and one twin is always cursed, though there’s no telling which is which. But Ahlo’s mother convinces his grandmother the baby should be spared and his secret kept.

Well, that secret gets spilled when Ahlo becomes the convenient scapegoat for tremendous family upheaval, tumult and tragedy. What is there for a plucky kid to do but prove he is not bad luck?

The casting director got lucky, that’s certain. Disamoe is more than adorable – although he certainly is that. His childlike logic, stubbornness and heartbreaking hope capture your imagination.

Troubling for other reasons entirely is the outcast Ahlo adopts as his “Uncle Purple,” a James Brown fanatic and village drunk played with swagger and heartache by Suthep Po-ngam. Cinema has offered many a pairing of unaccepted youngster and unappreciated oldster, but the bitter magic these two generate is something unique. Their damage is no run-of-the-mill angst and their collaboration is surprisingly moving.

There is certainly something familiar in the plotting: an uplifting story, a ragtag bunch of misfits, and a competition that could win them their future. But the context and setting are so wildly unpredictable that nothing about The Rocket ever feels stale.

Deftly maneuvering through a series of culturally saturated, often politically charged mishaps, Mordaunt uses the Laotian backdrop to give weight to what might otherwise have been a simple tale of the boundless optimism of youth. And yes, sentimentality flavors every scene, but what’s unexpected is that the presence of death is a constant shadow.

The Rocket is a film littered with motherless children, refugees of progress, and the ghosts of war. It’s a scruffy, haunted, vivid charmer about displaced souls, of all things. But it’s with this damaged but hearty population that Mordaunt spins a memorable and satisfying tale of resilience.





Weekend Countdown: Let’s Go Jackets!

Is it hyperbole to say this is the most exciting weekend in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets? Is it?!

They’ve been playing out of their minds, and if they keep that going Saturday night in NWA, they could land a #8 seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And let’s be honest, unlike last time, this year it really feels like they could do some damage (especially after a #8 seed just won the cup!)

And so, in honor of this weekend’s hockey fever, let’s lace ‘em up and count down the top 5 hockey films!

 5. Rocket: The Legend of Rocket Richard (2005)

No, we did not throw this in just to avoid including Mighty Ducks or Youngblood, but man, were we happy to find just one more decent hockey movie. The film echoes the life of Montreal Canadiens great Maurice Richard in an elegantly filmed biopic on overcoming adversity to become an iconic sports figure and national hero. Sure, that sounds familiar, but this time it happens in Canada.



4. Mystery, Alaska (1999)

Here’s a perfectly enjoyable, needlessly cluttered underdog tale where decent writing and generous performances outweigh trite themes. The alum of a tiny Alaskan town brings an NHL match home when the NY Rangers agree to play Mystery, Alaska’s hard-nosed local boys. Good-natured fun follows.


3. Goon (2011)

We can’t get enough of this Canadian minor league hockey gem, written by Jay Baruchel and starring Sean William Scott, who plays against type as a sweet natured, dunderheaded hockey goon who can’t skate but sure can beat the crap out of people.


2. Miracle (2004)

This great looking, family-friendly biopic boasts an excellent Kurt Russell, some fantastic hockey footage, and swelling emotions. Authentic, understated and weirdly compelling given the fact that we all know how it turns out. (Dude, we totally beat the Russians! Those douches.)



1. Slap Shot (1977)

What Caddyshack is to caddying, what The Bad News Bears is to little league – Slap Shot is best hockey movie ever. Paul Newman is hilariously salty in a story about a failing town soon to lose its minor league hockey team, and the player whose career is over if he can’t figure out how to save it. Does salvation wear thick glasses, travel in threes, and pack toy trains?