Some would argue that professional hockey remains the only game in town these days, which might explain fans willing to brave yet another cold weekend in order to come to the Hollywood Palms Cinema in Napervillle Saturday to watch the classic hockey film, “Slap Shot.”
The fans also had a chance to meet the “Hanson brothers,” whose hilarious scenes have continued to immortalize them well after the 1977 film came out.
David Hanson, along with Steve and Jeff Carlson, the consecutively numbered players 16 to 18 who played left wing, center, and right wing, respectively for the Charlestown Chiefs in the film, appeared for photo shoots and Q&A sessions Saturday before five screenings of the classic hockey film which also featured movie legend Paul Newman.
Holly Hu, executive assistant at the Hollywood Palms, said it took nearly a year to book the Hansons, whose schedule remains hectic even to this day. Hu agreed that current local hockey fandom made the trio a hot ticket.
“Both ‘Slap Shot’ and the Hansons remain iconic even to this day, and despite the number of years that have elapsed since the film was released, they seem to be as popular as ever,” Hu said. “They seem to have done things in the same comic spirit as movies like ‘Airplane’ and the ‘Saturday Night Live’ television show. We understand they are even hoping to start a reality show of their own.”
The Hansons offered some one-on-one time with media before greeting fans, and the comedic trio were upbeat about their visit which Steve Carlson, 58, said takes them out on the road “25 to 30 times a year.”
“We’ve done a lot of NHL arenas and a lot of the American League stadiums,” he said. “We’re like three brothers that live together and, of course, hockey is part of it.”
David Hanson, 59, said that the “staying power of ‘Slap Shot’” has developed as a result of it becoming “a rite of passage.”
“The movie is something that seems to have been handed down from grandparents to their parents and then their children when they are old enough to watch it,” Hanson said.
Jeff Carlson, 60, said the long running partnership is nothing more than “three guys hanging out together” and that the trio has “beautiful chemistry.”
“Why should we grow up — I mean we just sort of bounce off each other,” he said. “It’s funny that we’ve traveled together and gotten stopped at the border when we go to Canada, and after they search the car, people want to take a picture with us.”
Steve Carlson also spoke about working with the legendary Paul Newman and described him as “a great human being as well as a great athlete.”
He also said Newman’s success is absolutely attributable to the Hansons.
“He was on his way up, and after working with us, that put him over the edge,” Carlson said with a smile.
Fans were already in line at least an hour before the Hansons’ first appearance. Former Naperville resident Mark Johnson, who now lives in Plano, said he saw the duo this past November and that he came back Saturday to get a movie poster autographed.
“‘Slap Shot’ is just a classic movie and an enduring classic, just like these guys,” Johnson said. “I’m a hockey fan and you have to love this.”
Jonas Nasvytis of Elgin said he saw the movie for the first time on HBO at a friend’s house and that it instantly became one of his favorites.
“It’s absolutely one of the best sports movies of all time,” he said.
“I brought some tin foil for the guys to put on their hands, which was something they did in the movie before a fight.”
Lynn Antonaglia of Tinley Park and her husband Bob also came, with each wearing sportswear. Lynn wore a special T-shirt she had made up with the question, “Is the answer Jesus?” which she said comes directly from the movie.
“I remember when my husband made me watch the movie for the first time and he fell asleep during it, while I continued to watch the whole thing,” she said. “It was a lot of fun and I loved the fights.”
Bob Antonaglia said he has committed most of the movie to memory as have his two grown sons.
“We say lines from the movie around the house all the time, and my wife even bought me a book about the making of ‘Slap Shot’ which was really fascinating,” he said. “I love Paul Newman and I’m a hockey fan. For me, the movie is perfect.”