Genre: Comedy, Sports
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Live Schreiber, Alison Pill, Marc-Andre Grondin
Directed by Michael Dowse (Take Me Home Tonight, Fubar)
From the opening shot of Goon (really? A gargantuan black hockey player??? [Note: It was later pointed out that this was a cameo from real NHL enforcer Georges Laraque]), there is not a single shred of authenticity. On the surface, it will appear to be a hockey movie, and it isn’t, really. It appears to be a comedy, but it isn’t very funny. And for those that may say it is authentically a Canadian movie may want to re-consider…our neighbors in the north should be wary of a film like this being associated with them.
Director Michael Dowse helmed one of the un-funniest films of 2011 in Take Me Home Tonight. Here, every beat is a misstep, or in hockey terms, a shoot and a miss. Seann William Scott (Stifler from the American Pie films) plays Doug Glatt, a simple-minded hockey tough-guy, or a “goon” as they are referred to. He isn’t very good at hockey and can barely skate, but he is brought onto a semi-pro hockey club to be the team’s enforcer, fighting any opposing player on the ice who chooses to take a cheap shot at one of his team’s stars.
Elsewhere, there is Ross Rhea (Liev Shreiber), hockey’s most famous enforcer who is near the end of his career. He was just sent down to the minors after a horribly unnecessary hit on a player, and represents what Doug Glatt will become. I wonder if the two will meet.
It is no coincidence that the NHL does not appear anywhere in this film. They would want nothing to do with it.
That is mostly due to the current changing times in all pro sports. Where football looks to improve player safety, the NHL has long tried to cut down on fighting. The old joke is that you go to a fight, and a hockey game breaks out.
Goon, as a film, seems to be covering a topic that it knows little about. Yes, there are hockey enforcers in real life, whose sole purpose is to mash it up and defend their better players. Yes, fighting is and always will be a part of hockey no matter how much the league tries to suppress it. But were the filmmakers aware that in the past year or so, at least three pro enforcers have committed suicide? That investigations have led to the findings that many hockey enforcers do not like what they do? Many enforcers live a tormented life, because if they come out against fighting, they risk their careers and reputation. Many don’t even talk about it until they are out of the sport completely, and they all seem to say the same thing. In a lot of ways, it isn’t really a laughing matter.
Goon on the other hand, glorifies the problem. Not only is there fight after fight after fight, but there is a tremendous amount of gore and violence during these sequences, as teeth and blood squirt out like it was Kill Bill on ice. Nobody in the film seems to care, and the blood-thirsty crowd blindly cheers for more. To be fair, Goon is trying to be a light comedy, not a social commentary, but to make a film about this subject without any mention whatsoever of the real life problems surrounding it is completely irresponsible.
Oddly enough, a heavier-than-usual Seann William Scott is actually quite good as Doug Glatt, although he is playing a 2-dimensional caricature. He is not all that funny in the film, as a choice. He plays the character straight-on and with dramatic chops, showing way more depth than is required. If anything, Goon will hopefully stretch his career out beyond cruddy movies such as this.
Within the rest of the mess, almost nothing works. The scenes of actual hockey are choppy, dull and repetitive, as are the fights, which all seem to be the same exact scene played on repeat throughout the film. Despite a few random laughs sprinkled in, Goon is the kind of low-brow comedy that thinks it grows funnier with each curse word that is unnecessarily added in. It does not.
If you like hockey, there are better films to watch. In fact, I can’t think of a worse movie to be associated with the sport. Despite the poor timing of the film, the lame immature vulgarity, and the indecency of the topic, there are some surprisingly decent performances within Goon that raise it from utterly offensive territory, to just plain bad.
Just don’t go to this comedy and expect a laugh to break out.
Opens locally on Friday, March 30th, 2012 (check for showtimes)