Amongst the drunkenness, insults, violence (and almost drowning in the testosterone) a sweet little film is here to be found. But you need to look for it. And have a healthy appreciation of and/or tolerance to all of the above. This is a significant cut above your average gross-out frat boy shenanigans. It is a strangely affecting story, not just one on which to pin a series of gags. But let’s not get carried away. It’s a film about an ice hockey player hired to brutalise his opponents.
‘Goon’ is an unofficial ice hockey term for the role of enforcer - the muscle there to protect the talent. Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a bouncer who finds his true calling doing just that. One night at a minor league hockey match in
he takes umbrage to homophobic comments made by a player and soundly beats him in the stands. He makes such an impression that he is hired, for his talents, by the local coach. His adherence to violence is such a big hit with the bloodthirsty crowds that he is soon promoted to a (marginally) bigger league team in Massachusetts . Armed with just his fists and a dangerously-low IQ, Doug relishes his role of protector and helps the struggling team. Canada
Doug is unfathomably stupid and Scott underplays it well. He is often incapable of finishing a sentence and this kind of scrappy, unpolished awkwardness makes the film quite endearing. The scraps are bloody and graphic and there is good tension created out on the ice. Its obvious relation is 1977‘s Slap Shot but I think this is actually a better film. Proudly sporting the number 69 on his back, Doug is a whole lot funnier.
Love interest is supplied by Alison Pill – a refreshingly real young woman and a quirky talent. She and Scott achieve some genuine chemistry with neither punching above their weight. Notable mention to Kim Coates, native Canuck and a face you might know for always playing a slimebag. As the Highlanders’ coach he gives good sleaze. Liev Schreiber is an intimidating physical presence as Doug’s nemesis, veteran tough guy Ross Rhea. But I must say Jay Baruchel (also writer/producer) has perhaps a little more screen time than he should have. It doesn’t surprise me that Evan Goldberg is one of the scribes behind this - he also transcended the usual genre trappings with Superbad. And I sincerely look forward to director Michael Dowse’s next project.