Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

From this moment on, thanks to this movie ‘Goon’, we will now no longer refer to actor Seann William Scott as ‘Stifler’. No, Doug the Thug from this movie doesn’t replace the Iconoclast that was Stifler, but whenever Seann William Scott was in a movie, any movie, it was way easier just to call him Stifler than use his unreasonably long actual name. Besides, most of the characters he played in these various movies weren’t too far removed from Stifler anyway, so when we say Stifler, 99.99% of the viewing movie public knew who we were talking about. But no more. Doug ‘The Thug’ Glatt is a real character and after watching Scott in this movie there are those who will accuse the young man of being a real actor, just like I’m doing right now. I guess he’s in his mid thirties so he’s not really so young anymore.

Doug Glatt was blessed with a big heart, a lot of compassion, the ability to take a punch, and the innate ability to kick ass. What Doug wasn’t blessed with was a lot of intelligence, but this is by his own admission so it’s not like we’re picking on the guy. This particular skill set doesn’t afford one an awful lot of opportunity in life, Doug usually stuck bouncing at local bars, but one fateful day at a hockey game with his infantile and overly profane best friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel), Doug beats the living bejeebus out some hockey player who made the critical mistake of entering the stands. I hope the sight of people getting punched in the face repeatedly, usually ending in bloody pulps, doesn’t offend you much. Or some conjugation of the word ‘fuck’. For instance, if just reading that word offended you then please… please skip this movie. Like Doug the Thug, looking out for others is what I do.

Doug’s display at the hockey game has gotten the attention of the local coach of this semi-pro team (Nicholas Campbell) who has the bright idea of making Doug his new enforcer. Too bad Doug doesn’t know how to skate. That is until he learns how to skate, and now Doug ‘The Thug’ is born. So effective is Doug at punching people in the face on the ice, that coach’s brother (Kim Coates) who coaches a minor league team in Halifx, just one step below ‘The Big Leagues’ since I’m guessing you can’t

legally say The NHL in these movies without paying through the nose, and he wants Doug on his squad. He needs Doug on his squad to watch the back of the Kid who would’ve been King, Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Gondin), a young man with all the talent ever blessed to a hockey player, until Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), Doug’s hero, the meanest, toughest man in the history of organized sport took LaFlamme’s heart on a brutal cross check. Now LaFlamme is just a scared kid trying to drink, drug and screw his life away.

Doug is happy. He has a purpose in life. He belongs to something. Yes, LaFlamme absolutely despises him, but it’s not personal since he hates everything and everybody. Doug’s even met a girl (Alison Pill). She has a boyfriend and she’s a slut… again by her own admission… but she has Doug’s heart.

In case you forgot, this is a sports movie and the same rules apply. The team sucks, Doug sucks, Doug gets better, the team gets better, LaFlamme hates him, until he starts to love him in a completely non-gay way and eventually it’s going to come down to the last game against a hated rival with the playoffs on the line. But that’s the subplot. The main plot is the inevitable brawl on the ice that has to take place between the old tough guy, and the new tough guy, with both men having nothing but respect for each other, but both knowing that their teams fortunes go on the side of whomever with this fight.

I do believe that director Michael Dowse’s film ‘Goon’ is the best hockey movie I’ve ever seen. Now for the sake of complete disclosure we will admit that this is like the third hockey movie I’ve ever seen, with neither of those other two movies being ‘Slap Shot’ or ‘Miracle’. What were those other two hockey movies you might ask? Shamefully… they were ‘The Mighty Ducks’ and ‘Pucked’. I said I was ashamed, right?

One of these ‘based on a true story’ type deals, ‘Goon’ is a movie that gets by largely on character. That is once you get past Jay Baruchel’s obnoxiously profane oaf that started this movie off and did cause us some early concern for what we might be in for. However the man did co-write the script so we can’t be too mad at him. Seann William Scott’s character of Doug Glatt is so earnest and so sincere that he almost makes you want to cry. He’s not intelligent, but he’s not stupid either or portrayed as a buffoon. What we get with Doug Glatt, and this is rare, not only for sports movies but with any movie, is a truly unique character. That’s appreciated. Liev Schreiber’s Ross Rhea would normally be a movies defacto bad guy, but he’s not a bad guy. He’s a world weary traveler who, at this point in his life, sees things for what they are. Even the love story, which is usually borderline worthless filler in a sports movie, wasn’t so bad here either, again because Alison Pill’s Eva is a fully formed, fleshed out, terribly flawed character.

‘Goon’ is violent. I mean you will be hard pressed to find a film where human violence is presented as realistically as it is here, and it is mighty profane. I don’t know how realistic the excessive profanity is since I’ve never been on the inside of a hockey locker room, but I do know football players, basketball players and baseball players don’t curse this much. They cuss it up pretty good, but not this much. Nonetheless, ‘Goon’ is also funny, it’s sweet in between the brutality and profanity, it’s very entertaining and Seann William Scott was a revelation. A borderline great sports movie.

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