It’s not the most polished film. It wasn’t expertly directed although it has its moments; same for the script too; but it nails hit like an Alexei Emelin hip check when it comes to not only what the true spirit of hockey is and to be honest what makes Canadians special.
In WW1 Canadian troops actions created the term Storm Troopers. Our reputation was so fierce that in WW2 Hitler’s generals would follow Canadian troop movements when anticipating major attacks such as Normandy.
That’s because deep down when things are darkest; bleakest, and their most dangerous Canadian’s fearlessly jump into the breach and have miraculously achieved success.
In hockey there would be no Wayne Gretzky without a Dave Semenko. Goon nails that. Homey Jay Baruchel teamed up with Evan Goldberg in what probably was the most fun those guys will ever have in a movie. Just watching Goon it looks like it was a blast to make. The script shows that too. The story flows.
In most stories you have the hero, in this case Seann William Scott who’s a native of Minnesota ( a State that is nearly Canadian in its love for hockey) stars as Doug Glatt. From a good Jewish family of Doctors Doug is lost not finding his place in the world until he discovers he can become a goon on his local hockey team.
Everything has something but me.
Who has never been there in life? Alienated, not feeling successful or accepted? Doug’s coach played by veteran Canadian actor Nicholas Campbell to perfection turns him into a hockey player and leads to Doug’s promotion to a league one level below the majors where his job is to protect a concussed Prima Donna Quebec scoring machine, Xavier Laflamme played mightily by Marc-André Grondin.
In addition to the hero you have the villain. In this case it’s played by the “big name” of this film in actor Liev Schreiber who we end up rooting for. Liev’s character is a goon at the end of the road. He’s battered, beaten, but still defiant.
There’s an amazing scene where the two end up in a late night Coffee Shop in Newfoundland. Magic. Liev really butched it up for this role and totally hit a home run. The subtlety of his performance is award worthy.
In good story telling there always is a heroine. Alison Pill doesn’t get much to work with, but she’s cute as a button as the babe, and hockey bunny. Slap Shot was written by a woman and many of its perspectives reflect that which isn’t in Goon.
And of course in the story paradigm you have the fool which can sometimes be combined with either the Hero or Villain. In this case co-writer Jay Baruchel shares that roll with the hero as his buddy with a camera and potty mouth.
Veteran Canadian Comedy Icon Eugene Levy helps coat the cake with his role as Doug’s dad.
Gary Bettman and the NHL must’ve had a caniption fit over Goon. It’s not pretty. Fighting; blood, and mayhem are full hard core and go against whatever it is that the NHL is trying to brand in the US.
As the movie says: “This isn’t baseball!”
Watching the Ottawa Senators this year, the team I’m rooting for as The Habs have their heads up their buttocks I root a lot for Chris Neil who I’ve written about quite a bit. I have a hunch he loves this movie as probably does Don Cherry. Check out how Chara cries Uncle and Neil let’s him off the hook.
People have to understand that in this world where justice seems to be all but invisible to the “little guy” fighting in hockey is instant justice. There are codes and when you violate them there is a real price to pay. Maybe something we need more of in this crazy society? No, I’m not suggesting that you go out and drop the gloves with your local corruption; but for 90 or so minutes we can watch a film like Goon and smile.
And Goon will make you smile.
I give Goon Four Peter Pucks Out of Five as a hockey movie and 3 as a movie over all. If you love hockey; if you love Canada; you’ll love it like I did!