DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
GOON (director: Michael Dowse; screenwriters: inspired by the book “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey” by Doug Smith and Adam Frattasio/Evan Goldberg/Jay Baruchel; cinematographer: Bobby Shore; editor: Reginald; music: Ramachandra Borcar; cast: Seann William Scott (Doug Glatt), Liev Schreiber (Ross Rhea), Alison Pill (Eva), Jay Baruchel (Pat), Marc-André Grondin (Xavier LaFlamme), Kim Coates (Ronnie Hortense, Coach), Nicholas Campbell (Rollie Hortense), Eugene Levy (Dr. Glatt), Dave Wheeler, Sportscaster), David Paetkau (Ira Glatt); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Don Carmody/David Gross/André Rouleau/Mr. Baruchel/Ian Dimmerman; Magnolia Pictures; 2011-Canada)

"An appealing low-brow farce going at full speed to capture in its cartoonish presentation the cliches, macho dynamics, violence and fights of minor league hockey players."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

An appealing low-brow farce going at full speed to capture in its cartoonish presentation the cliches, macho dynamics, violence and fights of minor league hockey players. Though Slap Shot (1977) remains the number one hockey comedy, this one is second. The low-budget film has very good acting and does wonders in getting the spirit of the blood lust game. It scores with laughs and colorful depictions of the locker room and the rough hockey play on the rink. The sports flick, humanizing goons and sanctifying hooliganism in hockey as part of the game's ritual, is based on the autobiographical book by 1980's minor league hockey enforcer Doug Smith and is entitled “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey” by Doug Smith and Adam Frattasio. It's written with a soft heart and a cartoonish flare for bloody gore by Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel (has a role as the shock-jock radio personality best friend of Doug). Canadian filmmaker Michael Dowse ("Take Me Home Tonight"/"Fubar"/"It's All Gone Pete Tong") keeps things moving at a fast pace, gets laughs from all the over-the-top bloody hockey fights and ends up, surprisingly, with a fairly decent hockey flick that despite its weird trajectory and aggressive call for hockey to be a brutal game, still follows along the formulaic paths of underdog sports movies.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a nice Jewish boy living in Orangetown, Mass., a tiny suburb in the Beantown area, and working as a bar bouncer in his hometown. He's not too bright and a disappointment to his New England doctor father (Seann William Scott), whose other son (David Paetkau) is a gay doctor. After beating up a hockey goon from an opposing team who ventured into the stands, after a taunting by the fans, Doug's recruited to play club hockey as a goon for the local Orangetown Assassins even though he's a poor skater. Doug's ability to fight lands him on the minor league team the Halifax Highlanders, whose coach Ronnie Hortense (Kim Coates) is the brother of his current coach (Nicholas Campbell) and needs an enforcer to protect the team's promising star Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André GrondinT). he prima donna LaFlamme's career came apart when he was knocked out in the pros by a hard crosscheck from the legendary enforcer Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) and now plays scared in the minors.

We follow how the loyal goon is the ultimate team player and wins over his teammates with his tough play, even though his hockey skills are inferior, and wins the heart of the cute local bar girl Eva (Alison Pill), a self-described bitch and slut, whom he falls in love with and accepts her as she is. Eva admits at one point, after failing to dump the dimwitted goon, “You make me want to stop sleeping with a bunch of guys.” It all leads to Doug "The Thug" meeting in the game deciding if his team makes the playoffs the retiring 40-year-old goon  Rhea "The Boss" and duking it out with him in the center of the rink.

There are no disclaimers in this pic about fights in hockey ruining the sport. Instead it glorifies fighting as a necessary part of the game and ignores all the fuss made nowadays about unnecessary violence and concussions leading to long-term debilitating injuries. So what if it isn't PC and is ignorant about the damaging effects of concussions--it's funny and not meant to be taken seriously.

Of note, we learn in the credits that the goon has since become a policeman.

REVIEWED ON 11/17/2012       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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