“Where the film lacks in profundity, it certainly makes up for in savage violence...”
Here's me thinking Mighty Ducks had covered ice hockey in film for good. Oh how wrong I was, as Goon takes a look at a somewhat different side to the sport; the aggressive, fighting culture that comes along with it.
Inspired on real events, Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a disgruntled bouncer working at a bar in Canada, seeking a route to a new life. Spending most of his time with his immature friend Pat (Jay Baruchel), and an outcast in an otherwise brainy family, Doug needs to find a new path, yet his talents are somewhat limited, as the dense thug only truly excels in beating the crap out of people.
However, there does appear to be a job designed for his talents, as he begins to play Ice Hockey having been spotted by a coach. He soon becomes notorious for fighting on the ice rink, gaining a cult following, as well as the eye of local supporter Eva (Alison Pill). However, eventually he must come face to face, and knuckle to knuckle, with the most dangerous player in the league, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber).
Of course given the title of the feature, and the fact it's starring Seann William Scott, it's evident that Michael Dowse's production is never going to set the world alight, but it's a fun, light-hearted comedy, that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. This is of course a positive thing, as a film such as Goon needs to be aware of it's blithe inanity, and to thrive in it, rather than to try and attempt to be something it's not.
Having said that, there is certainly a deeper, profound story in Goon, as the character of Doug is quite tragic, and although not truly emphasised, the most intriguing aspect to the story is how he has become a castaway in society due to being so thick, and how he must rely on his brute strength to become a somebody.
However, where the film lacks in profundity, it certainly makes up for in savage violence. Adding to the sensationalism of the story, the fighting scenes are over-the-top, exaggerated and rather gory, deeming the scenes more enjoyable, in a Looney Tunes like way.
By the end of the feature the fighting does become quite tedious, and perhaps Dowse could have waited a little longer to introduce such aggression, and created more of a back story. Doug begins his ice hockey career relatively early on, and from that point onwards there isn't really anywhere you can take it, whereas has Dowse focused on Doug's life beforehand, it would have provided more material, and enhanced the story too.
The acting is credible and Scott actually pulls off a dopey, idiotic thug with relative ease, although in a sense, most of the characters he portrays are generally that way inclined. There is also a role for Eugene Levy, playing, you guessed it, the Jewish father.
Initially, one of the more interesting aspects to the film is the allowance for such brutal violence to take place in a professional sport, and for it to even be condoned by fans and coaches alike. For me this has always been an intriguing yet puzzling aspect to ice hockey, and perhaps quite naively I was hoping that Goon may have shed some light into why this aggressive culture exists in the sport. Yet unfortunately it fails to explain or even touch upon this at all, which although not too much of a surprise, would have been a welcome addition to proceedings.
Dowse also struggles to find a happy medium between the crossover of genres. There was an action/violence aspect, with much fighting and hostility, and then there was the teen comedy side, which ultimately seems out of place. The vulgarity induced into the feature by the character of Pat was unnecessary and also deemed the character highly ineffectual.
However, the film's greatest misgiving is its surrendering to the archetypical themes of a Hollywood sports movie, ticking off all of the stereotypes as it goes along. There is of course the pointless romance, in this case between Doug and Eva. The witty commentator. The 'big game' at the end, where just a point separates the two sides with 10 seconds to go. It's all been done so often before.
Yet Goon doesn't ask too much of its viewers, as it's an easy, albeit predictable feature, which is undemanding and enjoyable. However, how they managed to fill an hour and a half of just pure violence on an ice rink, I'll never know.