GOON (15): On General Release Friday 6th January
Goon sees Seann William Scott as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a bouncer turned ice hockey player who has been touched by “the Fist of God”. While barely able to skate, he’s got a punch that could stop a truck and a jaw that can take more battering than an anvil. It’s a bit like what Happy Gilmore might have been if he’d stuck to hockey instead of golf.
Glatt is based on real life hockey player Doug Smith, a bone-headed guy who’s dumb and knows it. He’s importantly not a bully, merely a meat shield who’s good at going toe-to-toe with the best of them and gets paid for doing so. Drafted into a minor Canadian team after showing some fighting prowess in the bleachers, Glatt is eventually assigned to protect their star asset Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) – a mouthy, formerly great player who’s turned to drugs and strippers after a particular bad knock from ice hockey’s resident bruiser Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) who is close to retirement.
It follows a predictable path with Glatt eventually propelling his team to minor league championship success, acquiring a love interest in the shape of the delightful Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim) and inevitably squaring up for a big showdown with Liev Schreiber’s grizzled hardman.
It has its moments but it’s never quite as funny as it should be. The supporting cast is decent – Jay Baruchel does good work as his potty-mouthed best friend although the endless outpouring of puerile profanity does wear very thin very quickly, and Eugene Levy puts in a all-too-brief appearance as Doug’s dad (although it’s initially odd as they were both such well-known characters in American Pie).
But it’s Scott who’s the main draw. Oddly, his character is more sweet than anarchic and rather touching considering the sporadic outbursts of brutal violence. Though Seann William Scott is used to playing variations on the theme of his famous Stiffler character, he largely eschews the familiar wise-cracking comebacks and snarky comments and displays a sensitivity and a subtlety which is surprising.
There’s nothing here which is going to astound but Goon is an enjoyable and fun comedy which will do well as a Friday night movie to chase the winter blues away.