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Breakaway

Easily the least of the three hockey-themed features at Toronto this year, "Breakaway" hits every triumph-of-the-underdog sports movie cliche squarely on the head.

Cast:
With: Vinay Virmani, Russell Peters, Anupam Kher, Gurpreet "Ghuggi" Singh, Noureen DeWulf, Sakina Jaffrey, Rob Lowe, Camilla Belle, Akshay Kumar, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.

Easily the least of the three hockey-themed features at Toronto this year, “Breakaway” hits every triumph-of-the-underdog sports movie cliche squarely on the head. Generically watchable despite its novel hook, positing an all-Sikh Toronto team in the Canadian semi-pros, this comedy conceived by co-scenarist/star Vinay Virmani is no stretch for original “Mighty Ducks” director Robert Lieberman, or anyone else here for that matter. Pic opens Sept. 30 on home turf; elsewhere, it will be a smallscreen item helped by the participation of Rob Lowe, some well-known Bollywood thesps and celebrity musicians.

Young Rajveer (Virmani) is a talented hockey player with dreams of a professional career. But those ambitions are dismissed by his conservative immigrant father (Anupam Kher), who expects him to work at the trucking company he co-founded with Uncle Sammy (Gurpreet Singh).

Thus, Raj has to hide his increasingly demanding hobby when he and his turban-wearing teammates, dubbed the Speedy Singhs (since they all share the same surname), decide to train for the championship in response to their rivals’ racist taunts on the ice. They’re helped by an ex-pro coach (Lowe), whose younger law-student sister (Camille Belle) sparks with Raj. Meanwhile, Raj is getting along uneasily with a smug new yuppie workmate (Russell Peters) engaged to Raj’s glamorous TV-reporter cousin (Noureen DeWulf).

There are no surprises here, with father-son crisis and reconciliation, scaled-down quasi-Bollywood production numbers and the climactic big game all arriving on cue. Perfs range from likable (actors playing younger Punjabi characters) to broad (their elders) to indifferent (Lowe and Belle, who seem completely unengaged in admittedly formulaic roles).

Hip-hop star Drake plays himself in a club scene, while Akshay Kumar and Ludacris collaborate on a bombastic theme song/video that plays under the closing credits. Packaging is workmanlike.

Breakaway

Canada

Production: A Firsttake Entertainment production in association with Telefilm Canada, CBC, Movie Central and Alliance Films. (International sales: Alliance, Toronto.) Produced by Ajay Virmani, Frank Siracusa, Don Carmody. Executive producers, Akshay Kumar, Andre Rouleau, Clayton Peters, Russell Peters, Paul Gross. Directed by Robert Lieberman. Screenplay, Noel Baker, Vinay Virmani, Jeffrey Schecther, Matt Simmons, from a story by Virmani.

Crew: Camera (color), Steve Danyluk; editor, Susan Shipton; music, Paul Intson, Meet Bros.; music supervisor, Sandeep Chowta; production designer, Philip Barker; set decorator, Rob Hepburn; costume designer, Debra Hanson; sound (Dolby Digital), Sylvain Arseneault; re-recording mixers, Steve Foster, Paul Shubat; casting, Deirdre Bowen. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 9, 2011. Running time: 100 MIN.

Cast: With: Vinay Virmani, Russell Peters, Anupam Kher, Gurpreet "Ghuggi" Singh, Noureen DeWulf, Sakina Jaffrey, Rob Lowe, Camilla Belle, Akshay Kumar, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.

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