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“Goon” – Review (POSITIVE)

March 8, 2012

“Slap Stick” has been known as THE hockey movie since…forever I guess. It’s a classic, beloved by guys everywhere, and is certainly in my top favorite sports comedies ever made (that’ll be a list for another day). There have been many hockey movies that followed, sadly with that same old “Bad News Bears” formula, sorry “Mighty Ducks”. That is until “Goon” arrived early this year. From the Apatow house of comedy, Jay Baruchel (“Knocked Up”) makes his screenwriting debut with co-writer, and Seth Rogen buddy, Evan Goldberg. “Goon” takes hockey hooliganism to heights not seen since “Slap Shot” and it’s completely right in everyway.

Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott) is not content with his job as a bouncer at a local Boston bar; he feels to be an embarrassment to his accomplished family, and dreams of the kind of success enjoyed by minor league hockey goon Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). When a chance encounter with an on-ice thug leads to a bloody fist fight that Doug easily wins, the coach of the Halifax Highlanders sees potential in this mammoth sized man who is only hampered by his lack of any hockey playing ability and his brother’s old figure skates. Standing up to the taunts of the other players, Doug manages to join the team, and with the encouragement of his hockey obsessed best friend (Jay Baruchel) quickly becomes a rising star. Soon he’ll have the opportunity to face off against the legendary Ross ‘The Boss’ Rhea.

There’s vast amount of gleeful Canadian love throughout this movie. It’s almost a testament to the nation of Canada, especially since it’s seen through the point of view of its beloved sport of hockey. Most hockey films, or any sports film in general, focus on the lame team as a whole and trying to win the game as a team. This movie, not so much, and for the better, the job of a hockey enforcer. I don’t watch hockey and I’m not really aware of every aspect of it. I didn’t think the fighting by the players was actually relevant, so I can kind of see how it’s invisible to many non-fans and perhaps the occasional casual fan. How the movie approaches it is definitively presented in a respected manner by taking the viewer into Doug’s world and letting him do his thing.

Sean William Scott is certainly in a different element in this movie. In the past he’s played the jackass, the jerk, the tough guy, and the doofus. Here, he’s somewhat different, he’s more of a loveable, simple, sweetheart, whose been endowed with a gift by ‘the fist of God’ to be a born to be bad fighter. You’d think that these two separate things wouldn’t play off quite right, but the fact of the matter it does. The movie does start iffy, making us believe we’re in for some random violent humor piece and that’s all. Yet, in the center of it all there’s a personal dramatic story, and it’s the performance that Scott gives that maintains the balance, a sort of ying-yang in comedy and drama. If anything the films overall moral are to know how you don’t have to be good at a sport to succeed, just know your role.

For the most part, the film comes off as a continuously watchable and intermittently hilarious comedy that benefits substantially from the engaging work of its various supporting actors as well. Live Schreiber gives one a whopping performance.  To some he would be viewed as the movies overall villain, but I didn’t see him to be that way. Schreiber’s Rhea was a basic interpretation of Doug’s future, if he does continue with her career as a hockey enforcer. Doug has all these things coming at him, telling him that what he’s doing is wrong; ‘You can do better’, ‘You can’t win’, ‘You’re dumb’. Doug is aware of this and that’s what probably makes him one of the most well-rounded and well-written characters of 2012; his honesty, his confidence, and self-honor.

“Goon” doesn’t hit theaters in the states till March 30th, but it is available on VOD, or if you live in Canada, check it out at your local Cineplex, since I’m sure it’s already playing in your native land. Honestly, this is one of those sports comedies I could watch over and over again. And in my opinion it should be a frontrunner for some awards considerations come next Fall, mainly for it’s screenplay & Scott’s performance, and what the hell, Liev’s supporting role too.

GRADE: A-

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2012 10:36 pm

    When I first heard about this movie, it was in a somewhat negative light. I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan and I had heard that his next movie Hit Somebody was about a hockey goon and he had Sean William Scott in mind for the lead role, and Scott knew about this. And yet he took the lead role in Goon instead. But then again, Goon is finished and Hit Somebody is only near the end of the script stage. I’ve only seen the trailer for the movie, but it looks pretty interesting and while I’m absolutely not a hockey fan, I might give this movie a shot.

    • March 8, 2012 11:43 pm

      Well as I said in my review, I’m not a hockey fan nor do I watch the sport, but I thought this was a fascinating movie. It’s got some real gutso human drama at the heart of the film. Especially a particular scene where Doug is having dinner with his parents and brother. He wants to give the ‘winning puck’ to his parents, and they totally reject him. It’s quite hearbreaking. Sean William Scott gives I think one of the best performances of his career and I really hope he doesn’t get unnoticed for it.

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