Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 32 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Brutal Violence, Non-Stop Language, some Strong Sexual Content and Drug Use
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Written by: Jay Baruchel & Evan Goldberg
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-Andre Grondin, Kim Coates, Eugene Levy & Liev Schreiber
Combining the sports movie formula with a fight movie formula and throwing in a hefty amount of comedy, GOON is a movie that is far better than it had any indication of being. This is a pretty enjoyable flick that is worth kicking back and killing some time with. I watched it in the spur of the moment, having barely heard of it in the past and this is a nice little surprise. It’s far from a comedic masterpiece. Some problems can be found in the storytelling/pacing. One major compliment that can be given is that I can’t think of anything I’ve seen (off the top of my head) that’s exactly like GOON. There are major props to be given for that.
Doug Glatt is a lovable guy, though he’s a bit slow in the head. He works as a bouncer at a bar and feels like the black sheep of his family due to this less-prestigious job. Both his overbearing father and his gay brother are well-respected doctors. During a night of relaxation and fun, Doug attends a hockey game with his best friend only to have a violent encounter with an aggravated player. His stint at the game earns Doug the attention of a hockey coach and soon enough, Doug is recruited as the resident enforcer for a hockey team. Earning a reputation and the title of Doug “The Thug,” on the rink for his bloody brawls, Doug quickly is elevated to the bigger leagues. This is where he tries to make a run at actually trying to play real hockey (to the dismay of his new coach) and attempts to form a friendship with a troubled teammate. This is all occurring while Doug’s parents frown upon his newfound career, Doug finds love in a troubled woman named Eva, and another famous hockey goon (Ross “The Boss”) waits on the horizon for a chance to fight.
GOON is very entertaining. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. The script by Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel covers a lot of ground in 90 minutes, but maybe it’s a tad too much packed in? I felt like the film spent such a brief amount of time on some plot points that everything suffered a little bit as a result. The relationship between Doug and his family is limited to about three scenes. One of the more important subplots, Doug’s budding relationship with Eva, also felt too condensed. I bought the evolution of them as a possible couple. Seann William Scott and Alison Pill do have remarkable chemistry together, but the film needed to develop them together more. If the movie were about 20 to 30 minutes longer than it really would have made a difference in covering these interesting subplots. There were just so many threads points that needed more time.
One aspect that wasn’t rushed in the slightest were the front-and-center sports elements. The really cool thing about GOON is that it plays out simultaneously as a sports flick and a fighting movie. There’s obviously a lot of humor thrown into the mix, but it’s all done with just enough believability to make the viewer root for Doug’s underdog team. The impending showdown between Doug “The Thug” and Ross “The Boss” is given some substantial weight. I really enjoyed the final scenes of the film which took a tad of an unusual turn for a sports-comedy, although (as my friend viewing the film with me noted) things could have been made even more unconventional and better for it.
The film is very well-cast too. Besides the aforementioned Schreiber playing the main antagonist. Jay Baruchel (co-writer of this film) makes an appearance as Doug’s foul-mouthed best friend. This character was funny at points, but also got to a level of annoying (which may have been the intention). Alison Pill is pretty damn good as the romantic interest and given somewhat complex ground to cover seeing as her relationship is a complicated one. Eugene Levy makes a brief appearance as Doug’s father. I didn’t recognize most of the other cast members off-hand, but there are plenty of colorful characters (a pair of twins kept making me laugh as did an ill-tempered player with pictures of his mother plastered all over his helmet). Finally, there’s Seann William Scott. Known for playing ridiculous idiots, GOON marks a change for Scott. He’s still playing a moron, but he’s a lovable moron with good manners.
As a whole, GOON is entertaining, despite some script points being undercut and rushed. The violence (of which there is plenty on the rink) is gloriously shot and done with a gleeful style to it. The entire film is laced with a charming sensibility. It’s a very enjoyable flick that winds up suffering from some pacing problems. Some of the parts of the script should either have been expanded or excised entirely. Still, GOON is one that I recommend as far as sports comedies are concerned.