I saw Goon this past Saturday when it finally showed up in a theater within driving distance. I went with a hockey friend of mine who plays men’s league, mostly because we’re buds, but also because he knows infinitely more about hockey than I do. We also saw The Hunger Games afterwards which in retrospect is a really weird combination of movies to see in one day.
It’s not Slap Shot. I don’t expect anything will ever replace that film in both humor, hockey and honesty. Deadspin recently did an article on it. Take a look. So if you decide to see Goon, don’t put it on that level.
But if you want a funny, irreverent film that seems to enjoy exactly what it’s about? Go see Goon. (spoilers after this point)
Sean William Scott plays Doug Glatt (later known as Doug the Thug), a bouncer who is very polite but very dumb. His brother is in medical school and he knows deep down that he won’t amount to anything. He’s friends with Jay Baruchel, a tiny, fast-talking cable tv host who watches and comments on the local hockey team. Ross the Boss (Liev Schreiber), who is beloved for his fights, has just been suspended. Doug attends a game and punches a hockey player who comes after he and his friend. The coach likes this and Doug is now a hockey player.
He can’t skate, but he can fight. His job is to watch the back of their best player, Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andrew Grondin), a tiny little Frenchie who got hit hard by Ross the Boss and tends to play slightly paranoid now. Doug even rooms with Laflamme, who is the rockstar with lots of women and drugs. The team starts winning and Doug even attempts to play the puck every once and awhile (sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes not).
As you would expect, they get to the last game of the final season, a must win to get to the playoffs. Ross the Boss is no longer suspended, so it’s a match of the heavyweights. Laflamme and Doug are now ‘friends’. I’ll let you figure out how it ends.
If I could have had subtitles so I could catch the infinite amount of insults during any of the trash-talking scenes (often in the main team’s locker room), I would have loved it. Highly inappropriate (so may not want to take your six year old), but very creative and I spent most of the time laughing. I’ve never seen a protagonist talk so little and still carry the film. Doug is likable despite the lack of brains. He’s polite to the guys he fights with, comically so and very endearing to the girl he has a crush on. He’ll do anything for his team, a trait that will make the audience (especially the hockey fans) root for him. I felt that the hockey shown was solid, the filming of it almost (not quite) as good as Slap Shot (the main reason I like that film). The side characters are hilarious with stereotypical types (Russians, Frenchies, the old man captain, and so on). I myself enjoyed how two players (Doug and someone from the opposing team) would stand near each other for the puck drop and politely asking each other if the other wanted to go.
I asked my friend if that was true to life and he said yes.
Things I wished for, but didn’t get: more character development. Yes, it’s a laugh out loud comedy, but the relationship between Doug and Laflamme could have used more development. Maybe it’s the sap in me, but I wanted them to become really good friends. In truth, having more development of the major and minor characters would have been appreciated.
Note: it’s pretty bloody (almost artistically done, for effect). I felt like it was bloodier than The Hunger Games (a story with kids killing kids).
Goon not Mighty Ducks or Miracle, so I doubt families will go see it. But it’s funny, poignant (Ross’s comment that people only like soldiers until they come home from war definitely resonates on a deeper level), and offers a multitude of new ways to insult a fellow player. It’s probably one of the better hockey movies that will be made for another five to ten years.
Go watch and laugh. It’s almost playoffs, you need the break before the stress.
Goon – ***1/2 (out of five)
P.S. if you need incentive to get your girlfriend or wife to go with you, Laflamme’s decent eye candy.
(all images taken from google images)