“Goon” isn’t perfect. Jay Baruchel’s story of a bouncer-turned-brawler doesn’t fit neatly into one perceived category and starts off looking like anything other than a strong film.
That’s what makes the movie so sincerely watchable, though; When you’re ready to peg “Goon” as a rip-off of a number of other movies, it cuts swiftly into new and satisfactory territory. In fact, there were points in the picture where it vividly called to mind the following grab bag of Hollywood productions:
Here are the things you’ll want to consider in whether it’s worth your watching:
The hockey: It’s Hollywood, so it’s certainly embellished, but that doesn’t mean director Michael Dowse’s work is typical of a man who produced “Take Me Home Tonight.” The camera work is really fun with strong angle work usually from the furthest blue line from the play. Yes, the fights are a little too boxing-like and there’s more than one moment where you say, “Come on, dude” to the writers and director, but it’s pretty decent.
The “sports movie” aspect: You know what I’m talking about… it’s what does in horrible sports movies and “Goon” does a good job of steering clear of the dreck. The locker room camaraderie is grimace-inducing, but that’s because it’s pretty reflective of most locker rooms of which I’ve been a part; Overgrown kids who’ve rarely had to worry about decorum. Kim Coates (Tig from “Sons of Anarchy”) does a pretty decent job as the head coach, and the team captain gives a solid and earthy speech before the inevitable “big game.”
The tenets of ice hockey: Like The Dude, it abides well. It defines why enforcers are in the game and the fragile egos of superstars. It frames the head injury debate and fighting issue extremely well; Doug Glatt (the protagonist, played by Seann William Scott) is a hero while carrying a lot of the traits of what people in the game and the characters in his life would consider an anti-hero.
The acting: I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Scott is very, very good. I can’t speak to his entire catalogue, but this isn’t what you expect from the guy whose made his living being variations of his Stifler character from “American Pie.” Scott is the Glatt character and gives it depth. He’s far more indie flick star than booger joke target. Liev Schreiber kinda outclasses much of the cast, as expected, though Coates and Eugene Levy (Glatt’s dad) are obviously fine. Glatt love interest Allison Pill (the adorable older sister from “Dan In Real Life” and bassist from “Scott Pilgrim”) isn’t the world’s deepest character, but she runs with it.
Overall: There’s too much tomfoolery to call this a “classic” sports movie or even an homage to “Slapshot,” but it’s worthwhile and even pretty moving at times. The language is far-too-salty for young kids — and even grown kids (I found myself grimacing, but that is true-to-life hockey locker room stuff). If I didn’t want to write this review and take a nap before the baby wakes from his nap, I would’ve restarted it. It’s worth it just for the wonder that is watching Seann William Scott as a real, living breathing emotive non-completely-comic actor. Loved him.
I was pumped to stumble onto this movie under the “In Theaters” section of “Movies In Demand.” No offense theaters, and I have stock in a company that needs them to thrive, but I’ll pay $9.99 to not leave my couch for cinema almost every day of the week.