PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a bouncer at a bar in Massachusetts, feels ostracized from his family, his father (Eugene Levy) and brother both being doctors. One day he attends a minor league hockey game with his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel). Pat taunts the visiting team during a fight and one of their players climbs into the stands, calling him a homosexual slur. Doug, in defense of his gay brother, quickly knocks him out, which prompts the rest of the crowd to cheer him on. Soon after, Doug gets a phone call from the coach of his hometown team who offers him a job as an enforcer, a player whose role is to protect his teammates and act as a deterrent by hitting or fighting opposing players who take liberties with his teammates.
In the meantime, veteran enforcer and Doug’s idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) is demoted to the minors after serving a 20 game suspension for slashing an opponent in the head from behind. Three years prior, Rhea hit and concussed the highly skilled prospect Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) who has had trouble recovering from that incident due to the fear of being hit, being stuck in the minors and falling in with the wrong crowd. After earning himself the nickname “The Thug”, Doug is called up to Canada and hired by Laflamme’s team, the Halifax Highlanders, to protect Laflamme and be his roommate.
The Highlanders experience success with Doug as their primary enforcer, and he quickly gains popularity among fans and teammates much to the chagrin of his parents and Laflamme, particularly after losing ice time and the alternate-captaincy to Doug. Doug becomes romantically involved with Eva (Alison Pill), a hockey fan with a penchant for players.
With 4 games left on their schedule, the Highlanders need two wins to secure a playoff spot. On a road game in Quebec, after an opposing player concusses Laflamme with a heavy hit, Doug savagely beats the player unconscious and is suspended for the next game against Rhea and the St. John’s Shamrocks. Doug encounters Rhea at a diner, where Rhea dismisses Doug’s claim that he is a hockey player, calling him a goon. Rhea warns him that if they ever meet on the ice, he will “lay him the fuck out.” The Highlanders, with Doug suspended and Laflamme hospitalized, lose to the Shamrocks.
Doug reaches out to Laflamme, and promises him he will always have his back on the ice. In their next game, the Highlanders lead 1–0 thanks to renewed teamwork between Doug and Laflamme. In the dying seconds, Doug blocks a slapshot with his face and his ankle is injured in the ensuing scramble. The Highlanders win, but need a win against Rhea and the Shamrocks in their last game for a playoff spot.
After two periods, the Shamrocks are beating the Highlanders 2–0. Rhea and Doug drop the gloves in the third period, and dole out and receive physical punishment during the fight. Doug is knocked down first, but Rhea calls off the linesmen and allows him to get back up. Doug manages to break Rhea’s nose, but breaks his previously injured ankle in the process. Doug manages to stand back up and knocks out Rhea with a vicious cross. Eva and his teammates help a seriously injured Doug off the ice and Laflamme, inspired by Doug’s efforts and Rhea’s demise, scores a natural hat-trick to lead the Highlanders to a 3–2 victory and a play-off berth. While being comforted by Eva in the locker room, Doug victoriously comments, “I think I nailed him.”
Hockey is not a sport that I typically keep up with or have any interest in. Sure, back in the 80s, I watched a few games with Wayne Gretzky, but that was more because of that Saturday morning cartoon, ProStars (kudos if you remember and/or watched it). I’m more of the football/basketball kind of guy. So, I bet you’re thinking, why am I watching Goon, a film that is all about hockey? Well, a sports comedy, no matter the sport, is sure to tickle my funny bone, supposedly.
What did I like?
Payoff. This is one of the few films that I know of which holds off the big moment when the two major forces, if you will, do not meet until the end and then nothing happens until the final act. In the time before that, we are privy to Sean William Scott’s character rise from lowly bouncer to beloved hockey enforcer who is the spark that gets his team, which hadn’t won a game before he got there, into the playoffs.
Fights. Like most people, the only reason I have any interest in hockey at all is the fights. If all hockey games could be like this, then I’d be the biggest hockey fan in the world, more than likely. The fights are what really keep this film moving along, although, they seem to get stale until the big one at the end.
Annoying…not so much. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews for just about anything Jay Baruchel is in that his voice is annoying, However, for some unknown reason, it works for his character. Or maybe, it was the fact that he was trying to act so street that it was overshadowed.
What didn’t I like?
Jagged little pill. Allison Pill. Does that name ring a bell? Well, if it doesn’t, think about the drummer chick in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She may be a total cutie, but I just wasn’t buying her as the beer drinking, foul mouthed, hockey groupie slut character they made her. I tried, really I did, but it just wasn’t happening. Maybe it’s the face, or the fact she doesn’t look like a New Jersey hooker, who knows?
Doppelganger. I know that Scott was supposed to be being built up as the next version Schreiber’s character, but it looked like they even tried to make them look-alike, especially around the cheek region. I was half expecting him to shave his beard into that moustache or vice versa.
Seriously? Eugene Levy is Doug’s father, a successful Jewish doctor, but he is very unaccepting of his son, well sons when he learns that the other one is gay, a subplot that feels like an uncomfortable silence when it is touched on.
Goon is a surprisingly good independent comedy about a lovable, albeit slow-witted guy who is really good at beating people up. Outside of boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc., the best place to do this is on the hockey ice. With a story like that, how can you go wrong, right? This is a film that you should definitely check out sometime!
3 3/4 out of 5 stars