Goon Directed by: Michael Dowse Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins Rating: R Release Date: March 30, 2012 (Limited)
PLOT: A bouncer (Scott) is picked by a local hockey team to play for them, but more importantly to win fights on the ice.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Sports fans who bond over quotes from movies like Slap Shot and/or The Waterboy. Frat boys, pick this movie for any of your fraternal sleepovers and you'll definitely be freed from hazing for at least a week. And for you, hockey fans, here's the one hockey movie you get every ten years.
EXPECTATIONS: It's not often that we get hockey movies, or sports movies that aim for hilarious extremes. For that reason alone, I was curious about what Goon would have to offer.
Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt: He's simple, he's dumb, he's probably the perfect human being (at least, in the world of Goon). His devotion and selflessness makes him an excellent guard to have on your team - or as a friend. Doug is an underdog with goofy mishaps that make us appreciate him even more. (Comparisons to Paul Rudd's character in Our Idiot Brother are certainly welcome.) There's not much to dislike about this simple character, especially when he throws punches like Tom Hardy in Warrior. Scott's embodiment of Glatt makes for the actor's best performance yet. Score: 7
Jay Baruchel as Ryan: Baruchel, (a born Canadian), nails the Massachusetts accent and the profane die-hard-every-season sports fan flamboyance. (If you've ever visited a message board talking about Boston sports, he's certainly not that much a stretch.) It's striking that co-writer Baruchel would write himself into a sidekick part, but his character offers a good introduction into this movie's love for the "other" exciting fare about watching ice hockey. Score: 7
Alison Pill as Eva: Showing that it's not just hockey fans who can be a little screwed up, Eva is a young woman with some of her own troublesome vices (mainly, her uncontrollable desire for hockey players). Pill plays Eva like a very comical take of "that troublesome girl," with dryness and honesty making her a sweet component to the heart of Goon. Score: 6
Liev Schreiber as Ross Rhea: There are underdogs in the story of Goon, and then there's Schrieber's triumphant lunatic Rhea, who dominates the ice with even more hilarious ferocity than his Sabretooth character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. A mythical character until the third act, Rhea is comically played with power and presence by Schreiber, who knows how to deliver a sharp grin and gravelly monologue, all over a cup of diner coffee. Score: 6
TALKING: Chuckle-heavy vulgar dialogue is honest to the flaws of the characters, with all of the script's cusses feeling especially at home in the rambunctious Goon. Characters are painted by their striking honesty, like when Pill's promiscuous Eva says to someone, "You make me want to stop sleeping with a bunch of guys," or when Scott's Glatt later states, "When you deserve a beating, you take it." Most of Baruchel's dialogue isn't fit for repeating on this site, but his colorful cussing splatters on the script like a Pollack painting. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Goon likes to uppercut audiences with an outrageous joke, and then speed off to the next scene. An editing attitude that assists the pacing of the full picture, it also makes for some great blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments. The on-ice footage of actual hockey (y'know, when there isn't any fighting) is slick and well managed - even if Goon doesn't care to really laying down the rules about the sport. Score: 6
SOUNDS: The usage of opera in such an uncivilized comedy is nothing new, but the three-time appearance of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" makes for amusing symmetry especially when heard the final time. Accompanied by slow motion and ridiculous violence, the aria recently butchered by people on "Got Talent" TV shows garners a couple of giggles simply by being there. Booming punches, kicks, and audience cheers make the sounds of Goon a particularly roaring experience. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: The beginning of Goon is quite solid, especially when Scott punches someone in the face while screaming in slow motion, "Hey, my brother's gay!"
ENDING: Those who stick around a bit through the credits will find out the truth behind Scott's character.
QUESTIONS: What would this movie have been like if it had a bigger budget - is the lower price tag a blessing? Would the casting of this movie have been much different with a high budget?
REWATCHABILITY: Goon has the right amount of funny lines and a swift enough story that a second viewing wouldn't hurt at all.
Offering a good amount of hockey's own version of "slapstick" humor, Goon hits the biggest laughs when showing these comically exaggerated characters embrace their "flaws" throughout such a direct story. It's bloody macho humor with surprising compassion towards its characters, especially the lovable lug played by Scott. And as for the game of hockey itself? Goon is totally crazy about the sport, but not its rules - the latter being something that you won't miss much of either.
With a key performance from the actor formerly only known for playing Stifler in the American Pie movies, Goon is a bombastically barbaric comedy. It is sure to satisfy the bloodlust of those who go to NASCAR races to dodge explosions, watch monster truck rallies to see little cars die, and of course, go to hockey games to watch gap-toothed ruffians slug it out before being put in a cage of temporary civilization called "the penalty box."
FINAL SCORE: 7/10