Across these travels of mine, I’ve never met a hockey film that i didn’t like. Do I enjoy Hockey? No. Do I even enjoy sports in general? Negative. Still, it has not stopped me from enjoying every hockey film i’ve ever seen. Granted, I’ve only watched four hockey films (three of them being Mighty Ducks films), but it’s still an impressive statement.
Will Goon, an ultra violent film about a brutish hockey player whose sole purpose is to punch things, add to the dynasty that is gnarly hockey films?
Director: Michael Dowse
Release Date: March 30, 2012
Goon tells the story of Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a simple minded buffoon who isn’t good at much but is really good at punching things. When a YouTube video of Doug beating the crap out of a hockey player makes the rounds, Doug finds himself drafted into a failing minor league team in Canada as an enforcer (a player whose sole purpose is to deal out pain to the opposing team). His team is comprised of drug addicts and degenerates, the woman he’s fallen in love is a bit of a slut and the leagues leading enforcer (played brilliantly by Liev Schreiber) will not retire until he’s broken Doug in.
First off, Goon is a beautifully violent film … like “symphony of blood” type of beautiful violence. Rather than focusing on the drive or skill needed to become a hockey player, the film pretty much follows a bouncer who can’t skate but can punch people really well. In my mind I compare it to NHL ’94 on the Sega Genesis in the sense that I loved that game because you were allowed to fight and make players bleed. Goon is sort of like that, it gets right down to the nitty gritty and gives you what you want: frenetic unrelenting scenes of violence that makes your skin crawl and raise your testosterone levels at the same time. If for nothing else, I can easily recommend Goon off the strength of the fighting sequences alone, more specifically the “final boss battle” between Schreiber and Scott.
What really helps set Goon apart from other sports films is that it isn’t really much of a sports movie, but rather an charming romp of sorts that happens to involve Hockey (and punching). The atypical lessons about team spirit and overcoming adversity are built in there, but those lessons have been slightly perverted and given a more existential feel to it. Match that with Seann William Scott’s incredibly charming simpleton performance and you get this bizarre story about seeking acceptance and protecting those who’ve accepted you. Of course, all that I’ve said could be utter bullshit and it really is a movie about punching the crap out of folks and nothing else. What I’m trying to say is … Seann William Scott gives a great performance whether it be punching people or being all sweet and dumb.
The film has it’s faults though. The pacing of the film is often off kilter as action sequences and character developments are being juggled back and forth in a predictable formula. Include that with the separate Hockey matches pretty much bleeding into each other and some awkward time jumps (namely the first twenty minutes) and you have a film that’s constantly stumbling on itself to get to the point. Also, for a film that totes a good supporting cast and a rich set of characters, in the end they all feel underutilized (namely Baruchel and Schreiber).
Still, for its shallow plot, Goon manages to charm the pants off you with puppy eyes and ultra violence. Though it often stumbles, the film manages to take someone whose sole purpose is to destroy and make it incredibly endearing and sincere. Also, there’s a f**kton of punching, and that is always awesome.