Old 03-31-2012, 12:26 AM
Michael Dowse's Goon

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Goon (2012)

There’s a kind of unwritten rule when it comes to sports films that says they should be about more than just the sport. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Take last year’s excellent sports drama “Moneyball” for example. There we had a film about how to put together a great baseball team which was all about the sport. Most of the time however, sports films deal with larger issues such as those tackled in “Remember the Titans” or “The Blind Side.” Now we have the hockey film “Goon,” which doesn’t attempt to do anything of the sort.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a bouncer at a bar. He comes from a family that has all made something of themselves by becoming doctors. One night, while at a hockey game, one of the players attempts to attack his best friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel) because of his taunts, but Doug stops the player in his tracks and beats him unconscious. This captures the attention of the head coach of the Orangetown Assassins. He eventually turns Doug over to the head coach of the Halifax Highlanders, who wants to put him on the team to guard a player, Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), who has lost his confidence after being hit really hard in a previous game. Doug quickly earns a reputation as a strong fighter and eventually gives his team something they’ve been dreaming of: a shot at the playoffs.

Now you’re probably asking yourself: Why would a movie like this get made? Even after the movie was over, I found myself asking that very question. What was the point of it all? Not that it has to have a message of some kind, but if the filmmakers couldn’t accomplish the basic goals they set for themselves, why bother with it?

They obviously wanted to make a film that was entertaining, but this film is about as entertaining as watching two people beat each other up, which is ironically as far as the plot ever gets. Why did the writers, Jay Burachel and Evan Goldberg, ever think that this would make for an entertaining film? If they had at least made it about the sport, perhaps it would have been more interesting, but by focusing the story on a man who just beats the snot out of people on the ice rink, they remove any entertainment and purpose from the film.

Something else the writers obviously wanted to make was a comedy. The film does have sporadically humorous moments, but nothing that was laugh out loud funny. There’s certainly not enough funny material to fill even its short runtime of about 85 minutes. Unfortunately, most of the humor they try to get away with is on the Sandler level, pertaining of references to genitals and such. Luckily, they begin to lay off the humor almost entirely throughout the second half of the film, but it’s unclear if that was their intention or not. It could have been due to the fact that most of the film simply isn’t funny.

The film leads up to a very anticlimactic ending. As mentioned before, the story concentrates on Doug as he beats up player after player in various games, so the writers decided to make the climax a big showdown between Doug and another fighter of his caliber, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). This also just happens to be the game that determines whether or not the team will advance to the playoffs. So the fight and the match play out (you can probably guess what happens in each) and the film ends, leaving us to ponder what happens afterward. My guess is that most people just won’t care.

The most interesting thing about the film is Seann William Scott’s blank performance in the lead. Known mostly for the “American Pie” films, all he has to do here is play dumb and go along with what his coach tells him to do. There’s also a romance thrown in between his character and Eva (Alison Pill) that never develops and ends up being completely superfluous to the story. It was a nice try to develop the character further, but in order for that to happen, the plotline would actually have to develop too.

What we end up with is a film that just isn’t interesting, entertaining, or funny. If the writers wanted to concentrate on Doug’s story, they desperately needed to add something more to it to make it work, like they tried to do with his undeveloped relationship with Eva. Perhaps they could have tried to concentrate on the team as a whole so as to incorporate Doug’s story into theirs. At least that way the plot wouldn’t seem like it was put together by drunken hockey fans. 2/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 04-03-2012 at 12:50 PM..
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