Showing at next month’s Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival, Goon is the surprisingly moving and very funny story about Doug (Sean William Scott – American Pie), a slightly dimwitted but big-hearted man who becomes the enforcer (or “goon”) for a semi-professional hockey team. Review after the jump!
Doug is an average guy with slightly less than average intelligence. He works security at a bar where when he isn’t distracted by the ice hockey games on the TV, packs a very impressive punch. One day while at a local hockey league game with his foul-mouthed hockey-mad best friend (Jay Baruchel), Doug becomes a local celebrity when he provokes an imposing team’s enforcer into coming into the stands, and then promptly takes him out. Doug is recruited as a thug for a local team, but soon climbs up into the minor-leagues where is he hired by the Halifax Highlanders to be their “enforcer” – the player who takes the big hits and protects the “money players”, in this case chiefly Xavier Laflamme (Marc-André Grondin – C.R.A.Z.Y.).
It appears Doug is on a collision course to meet his idol, Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) who has recently been demoted from the major leagues for his excessive violence. Some years ago Ross took out and badly injured Xavier, and it’s up to Doug “The Thug” to make sure there isn’t a repeat.
While this might sound like just another sports movie, with the violence ramped up a bit, it is so much more than that. Doug is such a gentle soul on the inside, that you can’t help warm to him and cheer for him to f*** people up. Doug has really never been any good at anything in his life (except fighting), so for him getting this job, playing the sport he loves, is unimaginable. For the first time in his life he is valued and he has found a place he feels comfortable. This film isn’t really a sports movie – it’s actually a fascinating character study. Doug is a sympathetic character, made more so by the fact that he knows that this is the best he will ever be at anything. His middle-class parents may have wished for more, but Doug couldn’t be prouder. He may fight for a living, but he does it for all the right reasons.
The film is also a great insight into the minor league hockey world, and it ain’t pretty. There is blood, there is biff, and there are dozens of references to genitals – it is a very gritty and quite frankly blokey film. At times I thought the language and violence got a bit much, but then I remembered who these men were, and I realised that this was probably pretty spot on.
The casting in this film is inspired, with Sean William Scott playing Doug perfectly – we never get even a hint of that cocky, self-confident guy we are used to seeing him play. He really shows his acting chops here, and I hope it’s the start of more challenging roles for him. Liev Schreiber couldn’t be more perfect as the grizzly older goon; while Marc-André Grondin is great as the money player with attitude. A superb soundtrack and some fantastic hockey action shots complete the package, and make this an all-round enjoyable and interesting film.
With plenty of laughs and some of the best king-hits you’ll see, Goon is well worth checking out.
Goon plays on August 16 as part of the Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival in Sydney. For information and tickets click here
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer(s): Jay Baruchel & Evan Goldberg (screenplay)
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Marc-André Grondin, Liev Schreiber
Runtime: 92 minutes