Review of Goon


Movie Review: "Goon"

-- Rating: R
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: January 6, 2012
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Genre: Comedy and Sport

"Goon" is a brash Canadian sports comedy about a bouncer turned hockey player. Starring Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel and Alison Pill, the rough-and-tumble comedy uses bold language and stylized violence to cover a sweet center. Based on a true story, "Goon" is an entertaining look at the rough side of hockey.

The story opens on Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a small-town man with a soft heart. Doug is a bouncer in a bar and takes no pleasure in carrying out the more distasteful parts of his job. He is not exceedingly smart, but his kindness carries him through life, and his skill at delivering a punch brings him success in his chosen profession.

One night, at a local hockey game, Doug's best friend (Jay Baruchel) gets into a fight in the stands. Doug comes to his rescue with several well-placed hits, and creates a reputation for himself as an effective fighter. As a result, he noticed by a scout for the local semiprofessional team and invited to try out for the team as an enforcer. Although he is not an accomplished skater, Doug finds a measure of success in his ability to take out the players who are trying to keep his team from winning.

Doug's life is changed forever when he is called up to a farm team in Halifax. There, his sole purpose is to prevent harm to the team's best player, Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin), on and off the ice. After experiencing a rough fight a few years earlier, LaFlamme is a handful for Doug, who must make the fearful player feel safe enough to take on the ultimate rival, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber).

Seann William Scott is the shining star and the driving force behind "Goon." He has made a career for himself playing slow but lovable characters, like the infamous Steve Stifler in the "American Pie" movies or Paul Rudd's freewheeling sidekick in "Role Models." He is comfortable in the crass comedy genre but rarely gets the chance to show off his considerable acting talent. In "Goon," Scott has the chance to shine. His character is quieter than his past roles, giving Scott the opportunity to explore a more introspective side. As Doug, he uses his impeccable comedic timing to good effect but tones down the more ridiculous aspects of his personality. Scott creates a character that is rough and tough on the surface but undeniably kind and generous at the core-and, as a result, he is completely believable, despite his unlikely situation. Scott's performance is nuanced to a degree that will surprise and delight fans.

"Goon" centers on the violence that is inherent to hockey. While other sports films dance around the issue, showing characters who bemoan the brutality or and refraining from portraying it to the full extent, "Goon" is fearless. The script makes no apologies for the Canadian hockey tradition, broken teeth and all. Writers Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg commit to their theme and refuse to back off throughout the movie, giving it a sense of reality that lifts it above other films in the sports genre. While watching, viewers have the opportunity to see the undercurrent of violence that runs through the sport, from locker-room jabs to on-ice verbal sparring.

Overall, "Goon" is undoubtedly a comedy that makes the most of the cast's talents. Scott is right at home with the locker-room humor, and the supporting cast members create a hilarious foundation. Jay Baruchel, who wrote and starred in the film, is crass but undeniably funny as Doug's best friend. Alison Pill gives a memorable supporting performance as Doug's love interest, though her character doesn't add anything of real depth to the script. Liev Schreiber is predictably evil and funny as the bad boy of hockey. The male actors are the stars of the film, and the real joy in "Goon" happens on the ice and anywhere the players are gathered.

Director Michael Dowse has taken a collection of character actors and used them to build a memorable, unlikely sports film that stands out in its genre. His camera work draws viewers into the story, particularly during the fight scenes. With close-up shots and no shortage of blood and sweat, audience members will feel as though they are on the ice with the players.

Although "Goon" is not suitable for younger children, it promises a rollicking, entertaining evening for fans of sports and comedy alike.

Rating: 4 out of 5