Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Movie Review- Goon

The Mighty Ducks, Mystery Alaska, Youngblood, Miracle, and of course Slapshot.  Famous hockey movies that you don't have to be a hockey fan to have heard of and enjoy.  Looking to follow in those footsteps is the new release Goon.

Doug Glatt (Sean Williams Scott) is a simply bouncer who can take a punch.  It's how he makes his life, despite the wavering approval of his parents who all seem to expect more from him.  A chance encounter at a local hockey game changes that.  He throws some punches, taking out a local player and before he knows it he's taking punching for entertainment on the ice.

Sean William Scott as Doug Glatt
A chance connection sees Glatt called up to the minor leagues as protection for the gun shy top prospect Xavier Laflamme (Kris Letang look alike Marc-Andr√© Grondin), he runs into a hockey locker room filled with a mish mash of all of the best (and real) hockey player stereotypes.  From the Eastern Europeans, who stick together, the grizzled old vet, the Captain's protege, the quirky goaltender, and the angry coach.  Every subsection of the hockey world is represented.

Through good (a romance with Eva, played by the adorable Alison Pill) and bad (Laflamme begins to resent the attention Glatt receives), Glatt goes about his business, unassuming, just knowing he's there to punch faces.  However, the movie's arc is all building up to the eventual match up with the suspended "bad boy" of the movie, legendary tough guy Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber).  As each story arc is gradually resolved, the countdown to the bout grows and grows.  We see Glatt season himself against others, including a bout with former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque who makes an unheralded cameo.

Liev Schreiber as Ross Rhea
The gem of the film is of course the center piece in Glatt.  Glatt's dedication to the team shines throughout the season, blocking shots, taking punches, and while looking like an MMA fighter post fight, he takes on the willing Rhea, who isn't looking for a fight but a successor.  The movie ends on a note that exemplifies the mindset of hockey's fighter: beaten but never out. 

The comedy is quirky.  Sweet, simple, and at times over the top.  It meshes well for the most part.  The heart of the film lies within the simple but loveable Glatt.  He goes about his business knowing his limits and enjoying living a life he never thought he'd get to live.  He's a sweet, loveable character that is easy to like.  Even the villain of the film, Rhea, portrays the typical "goon".  Pleasant, fun, caring off of the ice, a man who knows his roll and does his job on the ice.

Alison Pill as Eva
Perhaps the only flaw with Goon is that it's a hockey movie through and through.  It captures the spirit of the player, the person willing to give it all up, the unselfish nature that the majority of players exhibit day to day.  Outsiders will see this as over the top, out of place, a character.  Those who love the game, live the game, will know this is the true reflection of the spirit of the game of hockey.  Baruschel and Goldberg deserve extra marks for catpuring the live-or-die love that goes along with playing.

It may not have the cross over appeal of Slapshot but among the rapidly growing hockey community, both Canadian and American, it will go down as a classic must watch.  "What is wrong with you?  You're not a hockey fan until you've seen Slapshot, Mystery, Alaska, and Goon!"
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