PG Cooper: Goon Review

Posted: August 3, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Release date: February 24th, 2012

Running time: 92 minutes

Written by: Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg

Based on: The book “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor Hockey League” by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith

Directed by: Michael Dowse

Starring: Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, and Alison Pill

Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott). Doug has drifted from his brainy family and instead works as a bouncer at the local bar. Doug may not be smart, but he can take a pounding like nobody’s business, and he can dish it out too. Doug attends a minor league hockey game where one of the players tries to attack Doug’s best friend Pat (Jay Baruchel). Naturally, Doug defends his friend and takes the attacking hockey player down. The fight is caught on camera and Doug soon finds himself playing hockey for a minor league as the enforcer of his team. This puts Doug on a collision course with veteran hockey bruiser Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). Along the way, Doug falls in love with a local girl named Eva (Alison Pill).

A lot of people have drawn comparisons between Goon and the 1977 classic Slap Shot. While I see where the comparisons come from, Goon reminded me more of comedies like Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy. Like those films, Goon is about a nice but dimwitted person with a certain specific talent that makes him the ideal guy for the sport, albeit in an unconventional way. Goon follows most of the same beats and structure as these films as well. One of the things that sets the story in Goon apart from those of the aforementioned films is the character of Ross Rhea, who is a mirror version of Doug. The relationship is oddly reminiscent of the one between Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley in Michael Mann’s Heat with one scene in particular evoking said film.

Goon also borrows from films like The Waterboy in that the film’s protagonist is a borderline psychopath. Doug is a seemingly very nice and soft person, the kind of guy who one would think would never hurt anybody. Yet he engages in brutal violence so frequently that it can be a little disturbing. The film tries to explain it by saying Doug is a protector and will do anything he can to protect his team, but the amount of brutality and passion Doug brings to a fight suggest there’s more to it. The film never actually looks at Doug in a light like this, and that’s part of the problem. I would have been interested in a film that looked at Doug’s violent impulses, but Goon does not have any intention to do so. Had a seen Goon a week ago, I may not have been so fixated on Doug and his violent impulses, but after recently watching Punch-Drunk Love (a film which really analyzes extremely nice yet extremely violent characters like this) it’s hard not to focus on such aspects.

To Seann William Scott’s credit he does a very good job as Doug “the Thug”. He brings a lot of charm to the part and also has some great comedic timing. I also credit Scott for really disappearing into the character. Most of the cast is pretty good here. Liev Schreiber makes for a great villain and I like the relationship between him and Scott. Most of the players on Scott’s team are pretty fun too, and actor Marc-Andre Grondin is even given an arc to work with (a predictable arc, but an arc nonetheless). Alison Pill is also very likable as the love interest in the film. I only have two real issues with the cast. The first is I don’t really understand why they bothered to get Eugene Levy given that he only has two very short scenes in the film and isn’t given much to do. My other is that I did not like Jay Baruchel. I usually enjoy Baruchel’s work but his character in this incredibly annoying and obnoxious. It’s odd in a film where I liked most of the characters that the one character I despise is played one of the co-writers of the film.

The humour in the film is solid. I wouldn’t call it laugh out loud hysterical, but there are some funny jokes and amusing lines sprinkled throughout the script. Apart from the Jay Baruchel character, I can’t think of any jokes that really fall flat. Most of the fight scenes are pretty entertaining too. It still bothers me that Doug seems a few steps away from Hannibal Lecter on ice and the fights do sometimes get a bit too brutal, but they are well-done and entertaining on the whole. I also give the film credit for being a bit more visually inspired than other comedies. This isn’t award worthy cinematography or anything, but the film is more interesting visually than I would have expected it to be.

Goon makes me feel the same way The Trotsky (another Jay Baruchel film) did two years ago. It’s a film that is heavily flawed and I can’t really call it good, but everyone involved brings so much passion to the project that I still enjoy it. Even at its worst moments, Goon is a film that has a lot of heart, and I can’t help but admire that.

Rating: C+

  1. r361n4 says:

    I was sort of surprised ad your score after reading your last paragraph but looking back at the res of the review it makes sense. This looked like just another one of those straight to DVD forgettable comedies but I’ve actually seen some relatively good reviews to it.

    Side Note, I actually still haven’t seen punch drunk love but the combination of Paul Thomas Anderson and Adam Sandler feels much too strange to pass up. Would you recommend the movie?

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