Sean William Scott’s career to this point has been defined by his role as Stifler in the AMERICAN PIE movies which then got him in more roles that were very similar to that character. Very rarely do we get to see him play the nice guy- we do get to see him attempt to redeem himself after acting like a douchebag, but he never usually starts and ends a film as a ridiculously nice character. GOON is that movie- yet as nice as he is, he’s also a total beast that will beat the ever living shit out of someone that gets in his way. Beyond that, GOON is a hilarious and exciting sports movie that may etch its way into being my favorite hockey movie of all time.
Scott plays a bar bouncer, Doug, that comes from a very smart and successful family- his parents are embarrassed by his lack of family genes. When a hockey player comes rushing into the stands Doug beats the crap out of him and catches the eye of the home team’s coach who invites him to play for the team as an enforcer. As he improves his game a semi-pro team offers him a contract and he takes the opportunity which only further disappointments his mom and dad. His presence boosts the teams play as they speed their way to playoff contention as Doug’s path crosses with the league’s most prolific enforcer, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) – setting up what is sure to be a hockey fight blood bath of epic proportions.
Putting into context my comment before about my favorite hockey movie- there really isn’t a whole lot of competition there. When I was younger the only hockey movies I was even aware of was THE MIGHT DUCKS and since then I’ve seen a couple here and there but nothing that ever blew me away. I don’t mean to demean what GOON was able to accomplish for me, because it really is a great movie. It’s not just a brainless sports movie that manipulates its audience by putting the underdog in an insurmountable position. Instead it takes a team that isn’t bad, just in a bit of a slump and players lacking that competitive spark. They get that much needed spark with the unwavering loyalty of Doug’s character that sticks up for his team every way he can- mostly by beating opposing players senseless with his fists. So while it at times leans on the underdog type of story it’s not near as unbelievable as some of the more egregious offenders in the sports genre.
It reminds me in some ways of one of my all time favorite sports movies, MAJOR LEAGUE. Blending sports with comedy and a bit of the romantic angle while spending a lot of time with the players bonding with one another and making jokes at each other’s expense. The romantic angle here is my least favorite aspect of the movie- the actress in this part of the film, Alison Pill, isn’t bad by any means, I just wasn’t real interested in a love angle with this type of film. To be fair, a love angle might be giving it too much credit- it’s probably more of a puppy love angle from Doug’s perspective. The romance itself feels about as awkward as Doug’s character which could be the intention I’m just not quite willing to write it off as such.
Scott plays Doug in a light I know I’ve never seen from him before. I’m used to seeing him make all sorts of sex jokes, get his prostate fingered by a nurse, all the way to a Kiss obsessed energy drink spokesperson. In GOON he is a bit shy and very awkward- he has a personality that suggests some kind of social disorder and most of the time just repeats what someone else just said to him or at times making some very strange outburst of word vomit. He plays it great though and it’s easily one of my favorite characters I’ve seen him play. Jay Baruchel has a small part as Doug’s loyal but extremely vulgar friend, Ryan, who has some very funny lines but are delivered so rapid fire and with an accent that at times he can be a bit much- never so much that I wished he wasn’t in the movie though. Several of Doug’s teammates are a lot of fun, including the team’s captain and a pair of Russian players that are constantly making jokes at the goalie’s expense- overall a spot on cast that sends the films replay value through the roof.
Aside from the cast, the fights were a major factor in my enjoyment- sometimes stealing the spotlight from the phenomenal character work. Some are brutal and kind of tough to watch, others are just hilarious and some are a little bit of both. One of my favorites in particular is at the start of one of the games a big African American player asks if Doug wants to fight and they proceed to pummel each other as soon as the game starts and when it’s over they congratulate each other- I was doubled over laughing. The film builds to the match up everyone talks about throughout the film between Doug, the new great enforcer in the game and Ross Rhea, the once great enforcer on his way out. The buildup is pretty subtle until the finale of the film when it starts to become very exciting and tense- the fight itself does not disappoint. I loved the dynamic between those two characters after they meet each other and the moments leading up to their throw down.
I didn’t really know what to expect when sitting down to watch GOON except that there would be lots and lots of fighting- and it does not let down on that front. Aside from a bit of a needless semi romance angle at times I found this movie to be a raucous bit of fun. There’s plenty of raunchy humor, testosterone filled hand to hand combat, hockey action and even a bit of drama to add up to an extremely satisfying sports flick that with time could end be a classic in the genre.