There’s an unexpected sweetness to Goon, one you wouldn’t expect from the guy who got his start playing the biggest jackass in teen cinema. Seann William Scott turns a sweet performance as a dopey, good natured hockey player whose sole talent is throwing vicious punches and having the hardest fucking head in minor league Canadian hockey. Born into a family of doctors, Scott’s character, Doug Glatt, is searching for his place in the world. He finds it one night while attending a hokcey game with his obnoxious best friend, Pat (producer/co-writer, Jay Baruchel). When one of the players on the ice insults gay people (Doug’s brother is gay) the big lug looses it, takes out the hockey player and gets hired as an enforcer (i.e. brawler) by the local Z-grade minor league team. It’s not long before his contract is bought by a bigger team that wants him for thug duty. He’s shipped to the Great White North, where his spirit and heart (as well as his fists) inspire a rag tag team of losers to turn their season around and play for something more than a paycheck.
Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty cliche, but aren’t most sports movies? Moreover, Baruchel and his co-writer, Evan Goldberg (one of the guys behind Superbad) have hindered their script with an abundance of dick jokes that are so pointless that Goon nearly sinks every time Baruchel takes the screen to deliver one. But Scott has taken a stock character and given him such charm and innocence that it’s easy to put aside the shitty taste that comes with the juvenile dialogue that tries to pass as humor. Adding to the underdog charm of Goon are steller performances by Liev Shrieber, as a goon on his way out in the league, and sweet faced Alison Pill as a townie who falls for Doug. Shrieber gives one of his loosest performances to date, taking a break from the resume of heavies he typically plays. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen Shriber have fun on film. Comedy suits the guy well. As for Pill, she continues to impress as an exceptional young actress. Whether as an activist in Milk, the drummer ex-girlfriend of Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, or Zelda Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris, Pill deserves to mentioned in the same conversation as Emma Stone, one of the best from the new generation of actors. Pill brings depth to her character and makes it easy to understand why Doug falls in love with her so quickly.
The direction of Goon by Michael Dowse is nothing exceptional. He does a nice job with the hockey sequences, considering he was working with a small budget. The action moves along quickly and at 90 minutes, the film is over before you know it. Fans of Slapshot, Paul Newman’s now classic hockey comedy, should get a kick out of Goon, but I think there’s something else in the film that should appeal to sports fans and Apatow enthusiasts. Despite its falws, Goon is worthy of an afternoon rental, if only to be watch the romantic scenes between Scott and Pill. Perhaps someone will be inspired ad write these two a blue collar romantic film that is worth of their acting chops.
The Blu-ray contains some standard bonus features. The bloopers are mildly funny, but the deleted scenes don’t add much to the story. That leaves the commentary by Dowse and Baruchel. It’s entertaining and insightful, but not necessary to enjoy the movie.