There hasn’t been a good hockey movie in ages. In fact, the last one I can think of was The Mighty Ducks, and that was released about twenty years ago. So when I heard that Goon, the newest hockey comedy to come out of Canada, was making a very limited run in the U.S., I jumped at the chance to get into a screening of it.
The film, directed by Michael Dowse, stars Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt, a Jewish meathead with a heart of gold who feels as though he has no purpose in life. While his brother attends medical school to follow in the footsteps of their father, Doug is stuck working as a bouncer at the local bar – a job that suits his physical abilities quite nicely. Although, after attending a minor league hockey game with his perverted, sports-obsessed friend Pat (Jay Baruchel) and beating the crap out of one of the team’s players, Doug is offered a chance to play for the team.
Going from having zero knowledge about how to skate or play the game, to being the strongest defender around, Doug makes quite the name for himself and gets pushed up to the big leagues. It is here that he is tasked with rallying the team, and getting the former superstar, Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), back to his former glory. All the while, Doug’s hockey idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who is famous for his gritty fighting style and offensive force, gets ready to face off and beat the crap out of him in the finals before his retirement.
To be honest, the film is moderately erratic in its editing style and narrative progression, but it’s really the ride of Doug’s upward climb to stardom, and the struggles that he faces along the way, that makes this movie so great – so much so that you forget about the film’s shortcomings. Seann William Scott has always played a great “bro,” so his casting as Doug couldn’t have been more perfect. The comedy of his character really comes from his absolute stupidity, but it’s also very easy to connect with Doug and feel sympathy for him; he’s well rounded and humanistic for being so dumb. It is this good-hearted nature of Doug’s personality that brings about change for his team and the pompous Laflamme, and it’s also what ultimately gets him the girl of his dreams. Although, the real comedic star of the film is Jay Baruchel as Pat, who plays a character that is extremely unlike anything he’s ever portrayed. Instead of the being the shy super nerd that we’ve come to know and love from films such as Knocked Up and Fanboys, Baruchel plays a dirty-minded, hockey-show running prick who loves to brag that Doug is his best friend. Almost everything that Pat says is pure, laugh-out-loud comedy, and his sexually suggestive hand gestures only adds to this.
If you’re a sports fan, a lover of comedy, or just looking for a good time, I really can’t recommend Goon enough. The film is truly unique and fresh, and brings a powerful spark to the genre that, hopefully, will be revived to its former glory. I am deeply saddened that Goon did not have a wider release, as it was only shown at the NuArt in Los Angeles, but once it comes out to home video, you’d better grab a copy and put on your favorite jersey!
8.7 out of 10