Tag Archives: hockey movies

When Your Game’s on Ice


by George Wolf (originally published 4/12/2012 in The Other Paper)

It’s rude, it’s crude, it’s vulgar, crass and brutal. And I enjoyed the hell out of Goon.

Should Mom be worried?

It’s also a sports movie, full of all the usual cliches. Credit the sheer joy of the filmmakers, then, for the way it entertains its way right through them. These guys are childish, sure, but they’re also funny, and smart enough to celebrate their sport with a reckless abandon that becomes infectious.

The script, based on a book about the exploits of former hockey enforcer Doug Smith, comes courtesy of Evan Goldberg (co-writer of Superbad) and Jay Baruchel (star of She’s Out of My League). It follows the heroic rise of lovable Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott, from the American Pie series), a bar bouncer whose face-punching skills earn him a new career as a minor league “goon.”

Doug’s an outcast in his well-to-do family, and a bit of a simpleton with a gentle soul, at least until it’s go time. Scott, who’s made a living being funny and likable regardless of the material, breaks out of his “Stifler” persona with a fine performance. He’s most effective when opposite Liev Schreiber, menacingly good as an aging goon on the way out.

Throw in able support from Alison Pill as Doug’s possible girlfriend, and Sons of Anarchy‘s Kim Coates as the coach, and there’s some actual acting to be found here among all the dick jokes and flying teeth.

Goldberg, Baruchel and director Michael Dowse revel in the locker room antics and on-ice brutality. Through it all, they’re also sly enough to cast a satirical glance in the direction of the “fighting is ruining the sport” crowd.

Maybe nothing can replace the Hanson Brothers and their suitcase full of toys from Slap Shot, but Goon gives a new generation a bawdy hockey flick to call its own.

Goon Baby Goon

Goon: Last of the Enforcers

by George Wolf

Seven years ago, we got three successive blasts of fresh air released in roughly 18 months: Kick-Ass, Machete and Goon. Sequels for the first two quickly followed, each doomed by an approach that seemed oblivious to all that made their origin stories so appealing.

It’s taken quite a bit longer, but Goon: Last of the Enforcers is here to complete the unfortunate trifecta.

Lovable hockey goon/overall simpleton Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is touched to be named captain of his Halifax Highlanders squad, but when he’s beaten to a bloody mess by new goon on the block Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), Doug faces some tough decisions.

His girl Eva (Alison Pill) is pregnant and really doesn’t want him fighting anymore, so Doug takes a sad gig handling “insurance documents.” But with his team in disarray and a familiar itch to scratch, Doug starts training with old foe Ross Rhea (Liev Schrieber) for a possible return to the ice.

Familiar sports movie cliches follow, but that’s not what makes this new Goon so disappointing. The problems come from forgetting to give us any authentic reasons to care about Doug, or any attempts at humor that rise above sophomoric.

Jay Baruchel returns as co-star/co-writer, and takes the big chair for his debut as a feature director. His vision falls well short of the bawdy bulls-eye the first film delivered, sorely missing the script input from original co-writer Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express, This Is the End, Sausage Party, Superbad). Goldberg’s smart brand of humor is just what this film needs more of, as it relies instead on silly gags aiming for the lowest hanging fruit.

Also gone is the goon so easy to love. Doug is much too broadly drawn this time, reduced from a big-hearted brute we rooted for to a village idiot merely there to laugh at, not laugh with.

Goon was an underdog winner. Last of the Enforcers earns the penalty box.