Back when this movie was released, I remember not really liking it. But in my search for sporty movies to look at and recommend while sports were gone (welcome back, sports - I'll clearly remain as out of touch as ever), I came across 'Goon' as being one of the best ranked hockey movies out there. I got curious, and decided to check it out again for the first time since its release. I also figured I could recommend this as a "rage" movie - something to channel your frustrations through with plenty of on-screen violence; in this case, the frustration sports fans have felt during this pandemic. I guess I'm a little late, but here we are.
While there's still bits and pieces of it I think are pretty low brow, I actually enjoyed it much more this time around. I caught myself laughing quite a bit, and recognizing various faces that I didn't pick up on before, such as the 'Swearnet' gang ('Trailer Park Boys'). I also didn't quite pick up how authentically Canadian the film is, with its lead being one of the few American actors. I'll cover that as the review goes on, but for starters, the crew behind it includes Director Michael Dowse (London, ON) and writers Jay Baruchel (Ottawa, ON) and Evan Goldberg (Vancouver, BC).
The film centers on Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) of Orange, Massachusetts, who can't quite figure out where he fits in. He feels he lacks the intelligence to become a doctor like his adoptive father (Eugene Levy - Hamilton, ON) or his gay adoptive brother, Ira (David Paetkau - Vancouver, BC). He further lacks the passion for anything special, like his friend Pat (Baruchel), who hosts a cable call-in show called 'Hot Ice'. In the meantime, due to being a heavy hitter, Doug makes his living as a bouncer. Here we learn how funny things get, as much of the film's sense of humor is about him being so tough but with a friendly, child-like demeanor when it comes to diffusing situations.
One day, during a hockey game, Doug gets into a brawl with one of the Orangetown Assassins players. When coach Rollie Hortense (Nicholas Campbell - Toronto, ON) sees what he can do, he offers him a tryout for the team as its enforcer, regardless of whether or not he can actually play the game. We learn very quickly that he can't really, but he learns enough to get by, and be the team's muscle. He hits so hard, however, that Rollie soon passes him off to his brother, Ronnie (Kim Coates - Saskatoon, SK), who coaches the Canadian Farm Team, the Halifax Highlanders.
Doug's role in the game is to protect the recently traumatized Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin - Montreal, QB), victim of a vicious hit by Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liev Schreiber). Since the hit, LaFlamme has been a nervous wreck about playing, and lost all of the drive that was leading him into a promising NHL career. However, while relishing in his new role, and seemingly finding a place, Doug still has to prove himself to his team, his coach, and a girl named Eva (Alison Pill - Toronto, ON). Hardest to impress may boil down to his own non-violent family, and of course, Ross "The Boss", who you pretty much know is gonna be his "final challenge".
I think the important takeaway from this, for myself, was the fact that Doug felt he didn't have it in himself to be what other people wanted. However, he found himself doing something he loved, and to him, it meant protecting people, and doing good in that sense. It might be a somewhat twisted look at things in this case, but the message is that there's a lot of us out there who are trying to find that special something, and we might be able to find it in the last place we think to look. More importantly, if you want something bad enough, don't let anyone stand in your way by telling you you're letting them down by not following in their footsteps.
While I still don't love the movie, I definitely enjoyed it more this time around. Its sense of humor is pretty rowdy at parts, especially when it comes to Baruchel's role, and it can get grating. There's also this really weird mix of homophobic humor in there, where I don't fully know how to take it. It often makes whoever is saying it look stupid, anyway, Doug's adoptive brother is gay, and one of the most likable characters in the film, and it's actually a homophobic crack that leads Doug to the brawl that gets him into hockey. So when it was all said and done, I'd probably say it's still passable. But check it out if you need some sort of outlet for your anger and frustration through this Pandemic. It was a strange breath of fresh air for me, perhaps it will be for you, too.