The Thug is back, everyone! There’s a thing that critics often say when reviewing a sequel, and it’s this: “If you liked the original, then you’ll probable like this one.” Most of the time it means that we didn’t like the movie, but that you might. Goon: Last of the Enforcers bucks this trend. Yes, if you liked the original, then you’ll probably like the sequel. And I say that because I absolutely love both films. It’s not a perfect movie, and doesn’t rise to the heights of the first one, but Goon: Last of the Enforcers is a hilarious hockey romp that brings the Goon franchise full circle.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers stars Sean William Scott as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a slow-witted, kind-hearted enforcer for the Halifax Highlanders. When a fight on the ice ends his career, he’s forced to deal with new roles and responsibilities, all while his old team is betrayed by one of their own. The entire cast from the original returns, along with newcomers Elisha Cuthburt and Wyatt Russell. Writer and first-time director Jay Baruchel also returns for the sequel, but spends most of his time behind the camera. While the main cast is great, Goon is all about the supporting hockey players. All of the team are back as well, and it’s in their locker-room antics where Goon continues to shine.
If you haven’t seen the original Goon, then stop reading this right now and go watch it. It’s a sports movie that appeals to non-sports fans, while still capturing what’s great about hockey. Sean William Scott may still be known as Stiffler from the American Pie films, but in both Goon and it’s sequel, he’s surprisingly charming and adorably sincere. Both movies are full of violence and juvenile humour, but they find the sweet-spot between story and hi-jinks. They work because the characters and the world are likeable. For years, people who have seen Goon have been trying to get others to watch it. Like country music, however, sports movies seem to be one facet of a genre many people simply hate. If you like comedies with heart, give the first one a chance. And if you liked the first one, you should definitely see the sequel.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers is a clear homage to Rocky III. Both movies feature a protagonist trained by a former foe for a rematch against a man who beat them. This means that Doug is reunited with Liev Schreiber as Ross “The Boss” Rhea, and it’s wonderful to have him back. Schreiber’s hardscrabble Rhea is a joy to watch on screen, and his easy chemistry with Doug is one of the highlights of the film. You will never laugh so hard at a man forgetting his bus pass. Allison Pill is also worth mentioning as Doug’s pregnant wife Eva. While she wants him to stop playing hockey, the movie goes to great pains to never paint her as uncaring. Pill may be playing the straight-man to everyone else, but she’s the emotional core of the movie, and never falters.
“We’re pink on the inside!”
The best and funniest moments by far come from the Halifax Highlanders themselves. The critically underrated Jonathan Cherry is hysterical as team goalie Belchie, and his antics with his Russian teammates continue from the first film. While it does seem to cross the border into full-on bullying at times, Cherry never wavers as a victim, and the audience gets to enjoy it all. T.J. Miller also provides a lot of laughs as Sports Desk host Chad Bailey, whose outlandish commentary and freewheeling punditry cap off several scenes. And Sean William Scott’s lovable naivety is still as hilarious as ever. Goon: Last of the Enforcers isn’t quite as funny as the original, but still manages to surprise and delight after so many years.
But for all that works in the film, there are some definite weak spots. Wyatt Russell as Anders Cain, the villain Doug is training to beat, is believably tough, but never funny. Jay Baruchel isn’t around for much of the movie, but when he is he’s conspicuously outlandish. While he was the raunchy sidekick in the first one, here he almost seems to step out of a different movie. His performance and humour are over the top, and betray some of the heart of the film. Though the humour is top-notch when it works, there are several scenes that drag to further the plot. Usually, these are the scenes that don’t feature Doug or the Highlanders. Whenever the movie cuts away from them, it falters.
“Canada, probably. And 3 or 4 states.”
Perhaps the best part of Goon: Last of the Enforcers is how it builds upon the first movie and completes several character arcs. Doug is forced to finally choose between family and hockey, and the choice isn’t contrived. It matters. It has emotional weight. Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin) learned how to be a team player in the first movie. Here, we see that arc come to a close, as he gets the recognition he’s finally earned. Even Doug and Ross “The Boss” Rhea get a fitting end to their arc from the first film, going from rivals to friends. Goon: Last of the Enforcers isn’t just a good comedy, it’s a heartfelt tribute the characters we’ve come to love. Yes, it has laughs. Yes, it has heart. But it’s a sequel that doesn’t feel desperate—it feels like coming home.
If you liked the first one, then you’ll like this one. If you haven’t seen the first one, you should watch it, then see this sequel. Goon: Last of the Enforcers is not as funny as Goon. There’s no ‘gay porn hard!’ speech here, but there’s still heart and humour to spare. While the villain isn’t as endearing as he should be, the main cast and Highlanders players still are. Goon: Last of the Enforcers is a love letter to brutal hockey violence. It’s bloody, messy fun. Right now, it’s only being released in Canadian theatres, so if you’re interested at all, go see it while you can. It’s a satisfying return for old favourites, and a fitting end for beloved characters. Goon: Last of the Enforcers is hockey heaven.
My Rating: 7.5/10