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  Goon Gratuitous Violence
Year: 2011
Director: Michael Dowse
Stars: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates, Nicholas Campbell, Richard Clarkin, Jonathan Cherry, Ricky Mabe, George Tchortov, Karl Graboshas, Larry Woo, Steve Sim, Ellen David
Genre: Comedy, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is feeling left out by life: the only job he can get is as a bar room bouncer because he's not bright enough to do anything else, much to his shame seeing as how his father and brother are successful doctors. He knows his limitations, but wishes there was some kind of career which fulfilled him, and there is, he just doesn't realise it yet. All that changes when he attends an ice hockey game with his best friend, TV presenter Ryan (Jay Baruchel), and one of the players slings a homosexual slur at him; Doug's brother is gay and he feels the need to stick up for him - with his fists...

And his rock hard head as well, in this movie which informs us at the beginning was based on a true story, or a least based on a book about a real person, a Canadian hockey player named Doug Smith. Baruchel wanted to make a comedy based on the subject in the vein of Slap Shot, widely regarded as the finest movie of its sort ever made, and held dear to the hearts of fans of the sport the world over. So he had big shoes to fill if that was his aim, but in general the reaction to this, which the Canadian Baruchel co-scripted, was that it wasn't half bad, indeed, it was about as good an ice hockey movie as you could have wanted.

Of course, with any sporting film actually watching the competitions will be more satisfying to fans than sitting through someone trying to recreate that feeling of being there, hence why so many of these efforts come in for so much criticism by those unable to stop themselves picking holes in the depiction of their favourite pasttime. With Goon here was an obvious love of the game which did not blind the filmmakers to the need to tell a good story, yet also meant they were adamant that this should be as authentic as they could possibly render it. Luckily for them they had Scott for a star, an actor who had distinguished himself in wiseacre roles, but here trying something rather different.

And succeeding with it beyond anyone's expectations: he was terrific, showing a depth and range in a character who was essentially a dimwit, but a decent man with it. That was a crucial point, that he was a noble soul who used his physical prowess with violence to protect those who were not so capable; all you had to know about this was that it may have been a cross between Slap Shot and Raging Bull, in a comedy style naturally, but there was bizarrely enough a strong allusion to the Biblical Christ here. And that wasn't part of the joke, either, as Doug's self-sacrifice and ability to take a beating for others both more and less deserving took on a sincere, practically religious aspect, improving other's lives just as his own was put through the grinder.

Once Doug makes his mark in a Massachusetts hockey team as the man to go to for doling out the punchups, he is transferred to a Halifax team in Canada, which was only fitting seeing as this was a Canadian movie. There he is met with a group of players labouring under disillusionment and demoralisation, and sets about his mission as their modest redeemer, most pointedly for a great young talent, Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin), who is allowing his chances to slip through his fingers after a bad experience and now spends his time on drugs, booze and women. Doug also has his own Mary Magdelene, hockey groupie and self-confessed "slut" Eva (Alison Pill) who he falls for in spite of her telling him she's not worth it. If this Doug is not some kind of messiah, then he's a saint for sure, and eventually only rival hardman Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liev Schrieber, surprisingly convincing) stands in his way for saving the souls of those who need him. As inspirational as many a good sporting flick, Goon was funny, action packed, and a tad pretentious - but in a good way. Music by Ramachandra Borcar.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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