Goon (2011) / Comedy
MPAA rated R for brutal violence, non-stop language, some strong sexual content and drug use
Running time: 92 min.
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Kim Coates, Marc-Andre Grondin, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy
Director: Michael Dowse
Screenplay: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
Review published April 27, 2013
A supremely raunchy and violent comedy for the Slap Shot-loving crowd, Goon stars Seann William Scott (Cop Out, Role Models) as former bouncer turned bruising hockey player Doug "The Thug" Glatt, who can barely play a lick of offense on the ice, but there's perhaps no one better when it comes to dishing out pure violence and intimidation to rival teams in the league, save perhaps soon-to-be-retiring vet, Ross Rhea (Schreiber, Repo Men).
Inside, though, he's a lover and not a fighter, only beating people up out of a sense of duty, honor, or a paycheck, as he has no real skills or knack to do anything else but beat people up real good. But that lover inside comes out in a big way when he meets Eva (Pill, Midnight in Paris), a cute but promiscuous party girl that he becomes enamored with for her beauty, despite her waving her hands to signal the red flags he is missing, not the least of which is that she is cheating on her current boyfriend.
Goon gets its inspiration from the true story of Doug Smith, who collaborated with Adam Frattasio to make a biography of how he made his way from amateur boxer into the rankings of minor league hockey fame by being the goon on the ice whose job it is to protect the star ornery players from the players on the other teams.
The tone of the film is decidedly raunchy, earning its R rating many times over through the many sexual references espoused by its characters; Jay Baruchel's (Fanboys, Knocked Up) character of Doug's best friend Pat is really nothing but. While the film seems at first glance as if it is going to go down familiar tubes of crass and crappy comedies, there's a core intelligence to its characterizations and situations that allows the story to stay afloat during the sloppier passages, and unlike may other dumb sport comedies, the action on the ice is quite well shot and edited. A terrific ensemble of character actors play well together, and it's fun to see a beefed-up Seann William Scott, usually the perpetrator of the nastiest of gross-out gags, playing the one who is sweet and kind, despite his propensity for violence.
Co-star Baruchel also provides the script, along with comedy vet Evan Goldberg (The Green Hornet, Superbad), and the characterizations, hockey insight, and subtle in-jokes aimed at Boston and Canada, makes for some genuine laughs. Director Michael Dowse (Take Me Home Tonight, It's All Gone Pete Tong) does an admirable job in keeping the tone of the film from veering too nasty to find palatable, while not too sappy to undercut the comedy of comic violence. The one knock I could make on the look of the film is that the blood looks very CGI, but given that this relatively low budget film plays more for laughs than realism, that will likely be a non-issue for most viewers.
If you like crude sports comedies like Kingpin, Major League, Caddyshack, Blades of Glory, and the aforementioned Slap Shot, Goon should probably be well worth a spin in your DVD or Blu-ray player.
©2013 Vince Leo