Movie Review: “Goon”

Written by Brent Holmes March 11, 2012

The ugly end of the rink.

To hear screenwriter Jay Baruchel talk about Goon is to hear a significant ignorance of what is happening on the ice. Goon, a film primarily about hockey fights, has been heavily marketed towards being one of Canada’s first great hockey movies. Goon is not smart and it certainly isn’t funny. If this film is representative of the Canadian iconic sport, then our outrage should be of the same level as the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots.

Goon follows Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott), a bouncer who is slapshotted to the slightly middle leagues after he punches out a irate hockey player when attending a game. He becomes an enforcer, picking fights with players who threaten his teammates. Doug is set a road that leads him towards a ice boxing match with his hero, Ross Rhea (Leiv Shreiber), who is returning from a suspension for hitting Doug’s teammate Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin).

Doug is a guy who has taken one too many pucks to the head. He is the Forrest Gump of hockey movies with the bonus of not being a hollow dumping point for conservative values. Also, unlike Gump, there is a certain sense to which Doug may be questioning himself in some scenes, which gives him at least a little bit of depth. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the characters.

Doug’s best (most annoying) friend Pat (Jay Baruchel) is the hockey glove of this film—when he is throw off, the film gets started, and it’s really hard to miss him. Pat’s dialogue involves one word that starts with f, and any other necessary prepositions to form semi-coherent sentences. A wannabe follower of Judd Apatow’s crude and profane humour, Baruchel forgets that Apatow’s structures are based around characters, rather than shock value.

Doug’s girlfriend Eva (Allison Pill) and his semi-nemesis Rhea (Leiv Schreiber) are the only other two significant characters in this film. Eva is a boring character, who on hindsight is also like Jenny from Forrest Gump. Allison Pill does what she can with the role, she has shown potential as Kim Pine in Scott Pilgrim vs the World and played Zelda Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris, unfortunately she can’t do much here.  Rhea is somewhat compelling, the film doesn’t portray him as a villain, but rather as a honourable player nearing retirement. It’s a bizarre angle considering this film is about hockey fights, a dishonourable part of hockey.

Doug’s team, his coach, his parents and gay brother are all really insignificant on the ice. For every game the Leafs have lost, there is a mention of Doug’s brother being gay or that most of the players of Doug’s team are divorced, but there is not a real reason to care about these characters.

The music selection is incredibly un-hockey based. Dowse accompanies hockey fights with strange opera-style music that feels out of place. Other musical tragedies in this film include a horribly sung version of our national anthem that was neither funny or insightful, and another out of place rap song during the end credits.

Goon is a baffling film. It’s incredibly stupid—the kind of stupid where somebody tries to cross an ice rink using their tongue. Like the jokes on Family Guy, it only becomes funny when you realize that the writers aren’t going to come up with anything better, and you accept its embarrassing attempts to get laughs. At the same time, it does do a handful of things right: the transition into the third act is not sappy and does undercut the comedy, the fights are funny, albeit unrealistic, and it does have a certain charm to it at times.

Goon has been marketed as the first great hockey film—forgetting the amazing Charles Binamé film, The Rocket: The Legend of Maurice Richard (2005). As for funny commentary on hockey: Bon Cop/Bad Cop (2006) and the Arrogant Worms’s song, “Me Like Hockey”, have done a better job of making great Canadian jokes about hockey than this adaptation of Forrest Gump on Ice.

The most baffling part about Goon is that although there is a large Canadian influence on and off the screen, this film does not feel Canadian—it has a minimalist understanding of Canadians treating hockey as something we like, rather than a central part of our national identity.

Despite Canadian writing and direction, Goon is a film that forgot the most important thing about hockey: to keep its stick on the ice. While it does do a few things right, Goon is not funny, not smart, and definitely not Canadian.

My Rating: 3/10

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About Brent Holmes

Brent Holmes is a Film Studies and English Major attending Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario where he is working towards a PhD in Film Studies. He currently writes for We Eat Films and The Western Gazette (on the latter, he serves as Arts & Life editor).

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There are currently 1 Comment on Movie Review: “Goon”. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. to who ever reads this review, if you have never seen the movie goon and are thinking about it don’t waist your time on this review because goon is a hilarious movie. i purchased it on my phone and watch it all the time, and it never gets old. Brent you obviously are not a hockey head, so nice try, but you are crazy if you don’t think goon is a good movie.

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