Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, and Liev Schreiber
Plot: Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a simple minded bouncer. During a local hockey game, he catches the eye of the coach after beating up one of the players.
“This has all the elements of a sports masterpiece.” – Ryan (Jay Baruchel)
It’s true. It does have all the elements of the sports masterpiece. It is David vs Goliath story about an underdog team made up of a motley crew of rejects, has-beens, and never-beens trying to crawl their way out of last place. At its core is the popular trope, “the Accidental Athlete,” a character who was never considered an athlete in the past finds himself uniquely skilled in such an area.
This character is Doug Glatt, eventually nicknamed Doug the Thug. He is an exceedingly sweet man who just happens to throw an impressive right hook. After getting into a fight with a hockey player in the stands, he finds himself on a fast track to becoming a minor league hero. Scott deserves a lot of credit here. It is very easy to just get a pass for playing a simpleton. It looks a little easy to just act spacey and unintelligent, but Scott brings a level of earnestness to his bruiser that I don’t think many other actors would even think to bring. He has a great way of getting your guard down and grabbing your empathy right off the bat. You immediately want him to succeed. I think this is in part because he is just such a nice sweet guy. It is not the kind of character we usually see in a movie. They tend to have more of an attitude or more deliberate sense of humor, but Doug just cannot help himself but be kind in very situation he is given.
Even on the ice, he justifies it as a standing up for his friends and teammates. When he is first seen fighting at a hockey game, he was
standing up for his loud mouth friend, Ryan, who heckled a player so badly that that player jumped the boards and ran up into the stands. Doug’s mission is to protect a once great lead scorer, Xavier Laflamme, who got scared to act on the ice after being hit by one of the biggest goons in the league, Ross “the Boss” Rhea, played by an incredibly badass Liev Schreiber. When Xavier and Ross both try to discourage him, his passion and loyalty to his team and his role on that team is too strong to change. This much nobler look at the violence in hockey is how it effectively stands individually from Slap Shot, a frat-house goon squad hockey movie that it will inevitably always be compared to. In Slap Shot, the violence was a way to overtake their opponent s and refill the seats for a dying team.
If the movie has a weak link, I would say it is its comedy, even though it is still a very funny movie. Scott is in his wheelhouse delivering some of the best lines. Fellow co-stars Liev Schreiber, Allison Pill, and Kim Coates deliver equally funny performances. Their likability definitely stems from all four of them being more than just one-liner machines and all-around great characters. It is the fellow teammates who are hit and miss. They are very much a boy’s club not afraid to say what is on their mind. They take a lot of chances with their delivery, but it fails a little more than is succeeds. The potty humor with a decent delivery can only get you so far. Co-writer Jay Baruchel seems to have saved all the worst humor for himself. Not that it is particularly bad; he does after all get a few great zingers in there. He played his character like a loud motor-mouthed Hockey die-hard who had an infuriating Northeast accent (sometimes it sounded Boston, sometimes it sounded New Jersey).
Goon is a sports movie classic. By never taking itself too seriously, it is able to reinterpret sports movie elements in a new, surprisingly genuine light. I hope this can boost Seann William Scott’s career which has spent more time floundering than being successful. Nevertheless, between this and 2008’s Role Models, he has been part of 2 of the best comedies of the last few years.
Rating: NINE out of TEN