From mid-June to about late September is often the hardest time of the year for me, especially since I no longer live in Calgary where it can be Winter anytime from oh, just point out any day on the calendar, I’m sure they’ve had snow then. Less than a month ago, the Los Angeles Kings won their first ever Stanley Cup over the New Jersey Devils, and since the Devils were my team, and the playoffs were over, my Playoff Beard had to go. And then, there was No Hockey and I was sad. Sure, there’s exciting hockey news with free agents and stuff, but generally I have to find other ways to get my hockey fix during the summer months. Slap Shot is a phenomenal movie, but I don’t think I could watch that everyday. I already saw Score! A Hockey Musical once on a sort of blind date, and that was enough for me (it wasn’t without its charms, but nothing I would ever subject myself to if the potential of making out, etc. was not there).
Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of quality hockey movies out there. Apparently there are three or four “sequels” to Slap Shot, but they look utterly terrible and offensive to the legacy of that movie and I will not waste a minute of my time on them (unless I’m being paid). Thankfully, every couple years someone puts out a new hockey movie, or a movie that has little hockey shout outs (thank you Kevin Smith), and I can get a bit of a fix from that. These films generally seem to focus on the fighting aspects of hockey, which – as a hockey fan, I can tell you this – is rapidly becoming less and less integral to the game. So yeah, Goon, clearly from the title alone, focuses on a player that excels at fighting, and little else. It was written by co-star Jay Baruchel and Superbad‘s Evan Goldberg, and stars Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt, the titular goon.
For the most part, it’s a predictable enough sports movie. Doug gets discovered, trains enough to get a job on a minor minor league team, then gets called up to a less minor league, and kind of makes a fool out of himself for being a one-dimensional hockey player. Then everyone is charmed by his dim-witted manner and his ultra team player demeanor, and soon he’s a folk hero of a sort, and feared around the league for his pugilistic skills. So feared, in fact, that everyone is chomping at the bit for Doug to face off against Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), the reigning and soon to be retired heavyweight champ of the league. There’s also a completely believable little romance story, with Doug hitting it off with Eva (the stunning Alison Pill), but having Circumstances get in the way.
I’ve already written more about this movie than I thought I would, and that’s a testament to how much hockey love Baruchel poured into the script. There are little touches of hockey lore throughout that makes it obvious that it wasn’t just some Hollywood hack going “I’m gonna reboot The Mighty Ducks!” There’s some decent hockey action, some hokey action, and one really well executed scene, when Doug faces off with Rhea for the first time, and it isn’t on the ice, but more of a Heat-type showdown. Gave me a few chills, well directed by Michael Dowse, whose Take Me Home Tonight I truly enjoyed.
All in all, I recommend it, but if you’re not a hockey fan, you probably won’t enjoy it as much as I did. Unless you’re sitting with someone who is trying to make you a hockey fan, then you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it and you should become a hockey fan too. It’s the best sport there is, where men are Men, or something. I was leaning towards a 3 for it, but the hockey love that was clearly put into it pushed it up a bit for me.
3.5 / 5