Sunday, January 06, 2013


Directed by Michael Dowse and written by Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel, Goon is the story of a somewhat dim-witted yet kind bouncer who becomes an enforcer for a minor league hockey team in Canada where he eventually faces off with one of the sport’s great legends. The film is a sports comedy that revolves around a man trying to deal with fame as well as other things as this enforcer for the game of hockey. Starring Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill, Jay Baruchel, Marc-Andre Grondin, Kim Coates, and Eugene Levy. Goon is a very funny yet off-the-wall sports comedy from Michael Dowse.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a bouncer who loves to watch hockey fights on TV as he just learned his idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) has just been suspended from the NHL for slashing his opponent in the back of the head. While Doug loves to watch hockey with his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel), who hosts a local show in Massachusetts, where they attend a local game. Doug gets himself in a fight with a player from another team who had said a homosexual slur that upset Doug as his older brother Ira (David Paetkau) is gay. The fight gets a lot of attention where Doug gets to be part of the local Assassins hockey team where he becomes a local sensation.

After the team’s coach decides to send Doug to Halifax to be part of a minor league Canadian team in the Highlanders, Doug moves to Canada where he stays at the apartment of the once promising player Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) who is afraid of being hit after getting a concussion from Rhea years ago in the NHL. Hired to protect LaFlamme, Doug becomes “The Thug” where he becomes a favorite in Halifax where he is praised by most of his teammates, Pat, and Ira though Doug’s parents (Eugene Levy and Ellen David) are unsure by Doug’s new job. Doug also falls for a young woman named Eva (Alison Pill) who also loves hockey but their relationship is complicated by the fact that she has a boyfriend.

After becoming the assistant-captain for the team and the prospect of going to the playoffs, things become difficult for Doug when he LaFlamme receives another concussion in which Doug retaliated by beating up an opposing player that has him being suspended for a game. With the team set to play St. John’s Shamrocks, Doug finally meets Ross Rhea at a bar as Rhea is set to retire as a Shamrocks player as the meeting proves to be a big moment for Doug. After that meeting, Doug realizes what kind of player he must be as he later faces Rhea in a crucial game for their teams in a spot for the playoffs.

The film is essentially the story of a hockey-loving bouncer who becomes a minor league hockey player through his fighting skills where he becomes a star in the Canadian minor leagues. Yet, he later has to face his idol in a climatic game where he ponders if he should just be a goon for the rest of his career or something more. The film is based on a true story about a legendary minor league hockey player named Doug Smith who had a reputation for being a goon that likes to fight other players during games. Yet, it is about how a young man tries to find his place in the world where he doesn’t know where to fit in as he later finds his gift while meeting the man who had a great reputation for being a goon.

The screenplay that Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg creates doesn’t just explore the fanaticism of hockey but also the joy of the hockey fight. Yet, the Doug Glatt character is a well-meaning who just wants to do good things and fight for his team. Still, he is aware that he’s not a strong skater nor skilled in the game of hockey but his devotion for his team does manage to get him a lot of respect including his roommate who was once a promising player that is going through a slump of his own. In Doug’s idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea, here’s a man that has been through enough moments of the game where he has already accepted the fact that he’s a goon and sees Doug as the last man he has to face to see if he’s worthy to pass the torch to.

Michael Dowse’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of its visual presentation yet it is still engaging enough for the way it explores the fanaticism of hockey. Still, there’s an element of style to the film in the way the graphic violence of the fights are exaggerated to be not just funny but also gross. Shot largely in location in Manitoba, the film explores the world of Canadian hockey where the people are die-hard loyal fans while if they’re playing the province of Quebec. Those who leave that province for another team get the worst kind of insults in French. Dowse’s direction definitely has some unique shots and the way he presents things such as the climatic showdown between Doug and Rhea. Overall, Dowse creates a very funny and engaging comedy about the world of hockey and fans’ love for the fights.

Cinematographer Bobby Shore does wonderful work with the film‘s cinematography from the stylish lighting schemes of the film‘s nighttime exterior scenes to the more vibrant look of the scenes inside the hockey arenas. Editor Reginald Harkema does excellent work with the editing from the stylish, fast-cutting some of the film’s intense action scenes along with some more methodical cuts for some of its funny moments. Production designer Gordon Wilding, along with art director Scott Rossell and set decorators Robb Paraskevopoulos and Andrea Spakowski, does nice work with the set pieces from the look of the bars to the look of the Highlanders locker room.

Costume designer Heather Neale does good work with the costumes as a lot of it is very casual for many of the younger characters. Visual effects supervisor Darren Wall does terrific work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects such as the images of blood flying across the arena in some of the exaggerated violent scenes. Sound designers Pierre-Jules Audet and Jean-Francois Suave do superb work with the sound to capture the chaos of the arena along with some sound effects for some of the film‘s graphic fight scenes. The film’s music by Ramachandra Borcar is quite good though not very memorable as it‘s mostly low-key with its playful piano music. Music supervisor Evan Dubinsky does create a fun soundtrack that features music from Rush, the Allman Brothers Band, Lee Brooks, Ron Braunstein, Sheriff, Bruce Cockburn, and several others from the world of indie and hip-hop.

The casting by Lucille Robitaille is amazing for the ensemble that is created as it features some memorable appearances from Nicholas Campbell as the very funny Highlanders broadcaster, Ellen David and Eugene Levy as Doug’s very conservative though well-meaning parents, David Paetkau as Doug’s older gay brother Ira, Ricky Mabe, George Tchortov, and Richard Clarkin as Doug’s teammates, and Jonathan Cherry as the team captain Marco Belchior. Kim Coates is great as the Highlanders coach Ronnie Hortense who always spouts out insults and such either to his team or to whoever they’re facing. Marc-Andre Grondin is terrific as the skilled but troubled player Xavier LaFlamme who feels resentful over Doug’s arrival forcing him to finally deal with his own fears.

Alison Pill is wonderful as the hockey-loving Eva whose one-night fling with Doug becomes a relationship as she’s very conflicted for who she is and the fact that she has a boyfriend who is very nice. Jay Baruchel is excellent as the wild hockey fan Pat who helps Doug into becoming the great goon while saying all sorts of vile things on his show. Liev Schreiber is brilliant as the veteran goon Ross “The Boss” Rhea who deals with his own persona as well as the fact that there’s a new goon in the league who is going to take his spot. Finally, there’s Seann William Scott in a marvelous performance as Doug “The Thug” Glatt as he is just a man that is very kind but also a dim-wit as he tries to do what is right for the team and be their friend while becoming aware of his flaws as Scott definitely shows his range as an actor.

Goon is a remarkable and entertaining film from Michael Dowse. Featuring a terrific ensemble cast that includes Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill, Jay Baruchel, and Kim Coates. It’s a film that definitely lives up to some of the great sport comedies as well as showing the craziness of the world of Canadian hockey. In the end, Goon is an enjoyable sports comedy from Michael Dowse.

© thevoid99 2013


Dan O. said...

Good review Steve. It was a pretty solid flick that did a lot with it's simple premise, and gave it plenty of heart, humor, and violence to make it worth the while.

thevoid99 said...

Thank you. I enjoyed it while it also reminded me that Seann William Scott is a much better actor when he's not playing Stifler. I cite his work in Southland Tales as a prime example. Not a great film but he and the Rock were the few highlights in that film.