“Goon” is for hockey fans tired of all that pesky skating, back checking and stick handling.
The new comedy, out May 29 on Blu-ray and DVD, casts Seann William Scott as a hockey player with virtually no talent for the game. He simply delivers a beating like few can, and that’s enough to grant him a modicum of glory.
The concept itself spins freely off of the vibe from the classic comedy “Slapshot,” a movie that embraced the sport’s seedier side for laughs. In “Goon,” the story tries to balance the bloodshed with the notion that one particular thug throws punches but has very little hate in his heart
It’s alternately funny and touching, but the project still feels like a missed opportunity to tell a bigger story. Whenever the titular goon gets close to something meaningful, the story falls back on broken jaws and dislodged molars for insta-laughs.
Seann William Scott of “American Pie” fames stars as Doug Glatt, a bouncer who becomes a hockey side show when his beat down of a hockey player catches the eye of a curious team owner. Doug can’t believe his good fortune, even if his fellow players don’t instantly appreciate his particular skill set.
Doug eventually is paired with a talented but distant teammate in the hopes that a little on-ice protection will let the prospect rediscover his scoring touch. But the real story is the lumbering presence of Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), the league’s reigning goon who wouldn’t mind showing Doug a thing or two about the enforcing business.
You know as soon as Ross hits the ice how he’ll factor in the film’s waning moments.
“Goon” goes for both the easy physical comedy and the madness of those who follow the sport unabashedly (Jay Baruchel, who co-wrote the film, plays just such a fellow).
Scott transcends a script that handcuffs him in nearly every scene. He conveys plenty with his face and body – the former an increasingly scarred surface which grows more hideous as the movie moves forward. Doug emits a sense of fearlessness along with a decency that’s almost beautiful to behold. He’s like Lennie from “Of Mice and Men,” a man-child unaware of the gritty world around him.
That’s why the film’s love story feels like an afterthought. Could a man brimming with such volcanic power truly contain it all for the flawed girl of his dreams?
Eugene Levy barely registers as Doug’s dad, a man horrified by his son’s violent profession. What a shame we don’t see Levy, so good in comic supporting roles, tear into a darker, more mature character. Doug’s family is similarly short changed. His brother is gay, a story element that nudges a few scenes into fresh arenas before it, too, is shoved aside for the fight sequences. Why did such an urbane clan produce someone like Doug, who can’t put a coherent sentence together?
Yet the film itself is oddly exhilarating. It’s certainly a loving assault on the sport, one with a decreasing fan base that can’t repeat what the NBA, NFL and MLB long ago secured – broadcast television supremacy.
“Goon” is the film equivalent of a hockey fight. It’s ultimately meaningless, but you can’t turn away.
The DVD extras include power play clips (like Baruchel getting his hair buzzed and other random behind the scenes snippets, a commentary track from Baruchel and director Michael Dowse plus a hybrid deleted scenes/outtakes reel.
Turns out Scott is a most apologetic star when he breaks up on camera or introduces himself by his real name accidentally.