A few years ago Kevin Smith made mention of a hockey movie featuring Sean William Scott, an actor he’d recently finished working with on Cop Out. Scott is an underrated actor, mostly known for the eternally immature Steve Stiffler from the American Pie series. However, once you get him away from Pie, he’s turned several surprising performances, such as: Southland Tales, as a cop seeking his twin in a dystopian society; The Rundown, in a supporting role as the hilarious target of Dwayne Johnson’s retrieval specialist; or Role Models, as a slacker who figures out how to grow up by being someone’s big brother. So when I heard about Goon, a film based on the novel about Doug Scott, I figured I’d give it a shot (no pun intended).
Plot: The underdog of his doctor family, Doug works as a bouncer because he can take and give a beating better than anyone. After intervening in a fight at a game, Doug is given the chance to be an enforcer for a minor league hockey team. God help anyone that gets in his way.
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Kim Coates
Doug Glatt is an unbelievably nice guy. Sure, he’s a little slow, but he knows the difference between right and wrong, between loyalty and faithlessness. When we first meet Doug, he’s a bouncer at a club checking IDs, watching over the guests, and serving as the owners’ reluctant heavy. Hanging with his buddy one night at a Hockey game, one of the player’s threatens to hurt Doug’s buddy – and being the loyal guy he is – knock him clean out. Impressed, the coach invites him try-out as the team’s new enforcer. A few games in, Doug gets sent to a minor league team to serve as an enforcer for the coach’s brother. Doug doesn’t mind being shuffled around like this because to him, he’s just happy being able to do something that he’s good at.
Your first instinct is to think that Doug is just a simpleton. He’s not quick with a retort for any verbal jabs, and knows that he’ll never be smart enough to be a doctor like his family, but cross him, his family, or his team – you won’t wake up for days. Maybe that’s the takeaway from this picture. Loyalty to yourself and others will reap far more benefits than losing faith. Doug never does. In fact, a shining moment isn’t when he knocks out an opponent for hurting a teammate, but when he takes a beating from his girlfriend’s ex, knowing that he could lay the guy out at any time. Stating simply, “When you deserve a beating, you take it.”
Even with the secondary story of Liev Schreiber’s “Ross Rhea” as a retiring enforcer who is someone Doug greatly admires and whose fighting style him inspires. Rhea’s story is meant to mimic Doug’s future – the idea that as soon as he’s done being useful, they’ll put him to pasture without a second thought. This part, from what I’ve gathered, is mostly movie magic. Not to give the story a villain, but to provide an adversary worthy of a action film set within a hockey movie. And what a fight it is.
I highly recommend this movie. It’s not high brow drama, but it’s not low brow either. It doesn’t reach for jokes through gross tactics, rather it strives to be an honest telling of one man’s attempt to find what he’s good at. While I found the movie’s ending far too abrupt for my taste, the journey to get there was well worth it. So if you’re in need of a few good laughs and don’t mind quite a bit of blood, take a chance on Goon. Plus, with a cast full of fantastic actors that look like they’re having as much fun as you, it won’t disappoint.
Personal Recommendation for Reader Viewing:
When I think of misfit sports movies, this is my first and only. At the time, there was no one funnier than Sinbad and no one sexier than Kathy Ireland. Granted, I was 10 or 11 when this came out, which may explain a few things, but it still remains one of my favorites.
Coach Gennero: Get up, Wally, people are watching. Not many… but they’re watching.
Coach Rig: If this wasn’t friggin astro-turf, I’d dig a grave for myself.
Convict Football Player: I don’t feel so good. I think I swallowed a finger.
Coach Rig: I don’t wanna put any undue pressure on you guys, but Coach Gennero’s last words were, win or I’ll die.
Coach Rig: Now, let’s analyze what’s been working for us. [Long pause] NOT A GOD DAMN THING’S been working for us. Like this goddamn suit doesn’t work for me… and this stinking tie… and this goddamned shirt. IT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME. YOU KNOW HOW TO PLAY WINNING HARD-NOSED FOOTBALL? YOU PLAY FOOTBALL LIKE ED GENERRO PLAYED FOOTBALL. A guy who gave his life for this football team. He was a 140-pound halfback, and HE PLAYED LIKE A GODDAMN WILDMAN! NO! LIKE A GODDAMN RAMPAGING BEAST! And that’s the way you got to do it! YOU GO OUT THERE! YOU TEAR THEIR FUCKING HEADS OFF, AND YOU SHIT DOWN THEIR NECKS! Let us pray.