Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Kim Coates, Eugene Levy, Marc-André Grondin
Directed By: Michael Dowse
Written By: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 32 min
As blood falls on the ice during the opening credits, it seems clear what this film is about, and what it wants to do. This isn’t baseball. This isn’t soccer or football or basketball. It’s closer in some respects to boxing or mixed martial arts rather than an actual team sport. It’s a game for agile dancers and street wise thugs, that glides, pivots and slams. And Goon, based on the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into Minor League Hockey, hits hard, isn’t good at nuance, but somehow still charms.
As the thick-skulled Halifax Highlander enforcer, Doug Glatt – Seann William Scott delivers his best performance to date. He’s the glue that keeps this whole thing together, and without him, this movie would have no heart. As the Forest Gump Gretzky of the piece, Scott is the perfect über polite teddy bear. Focused on protecting his team, his friends and doing the right thing. And the movie shines the most when it shows us examples of Doug’s commitment to the people around him. Including taking a hockey puck to the face to save a game.
That being said, other than a great central performance, and some nicely filmed action on the ice, Goon also has plenty of flaws. Jay Baruchel’s sporadic appearances as Doug’s foul-mouthed friend Pat, are just over the top and obnoxious. As is a lot of the banter between the Highlander players. Who are given very little to do other than swear, drink, and repeatedly deliver boring dick jokes.
The movie also doesn’t really have an end game. It’s not really about the team, or the players, except for maybe the team’s ‘shell shocked’ star player, Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin). Nor does it really explore Doug’s blossoming romance with Eva (Alison Pill), who is won over by our goon’s puppy dog eyes and innocent charm. It kinda builds towards a ‘big fight’ between Doug and the league’s reigning enforcer, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), but since Rhea is absent for most of the film, there’s no real connection between these two players, so the payoff at the end of the fight lacks emotional weight. But I believe that was the point. Some people watch hockey purely for the fights, so maybe that’s what director Michael Dowse was going for here. Why the players are fighting isn’t important – just that they do!
This is bloody, and the action on the ice can get pretty violent. The script too is littered with a lot of crude humor and bad language. If that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, then by all means checkout Goon.
The action on the ice is nicely shot, but this film will be serviced just fine on a HDTV. I wouldn’t recommend you watch this on anything smaller than a laptop, as you may miss some details during the more rapid game time action.
The film’s final battle between the minor league’s two top enforcers, Doug Glatt and Ross Rhea.