I make no secret of my love of the sport of hockey. In fact it brings me happiness like few things do. I'm not sure exactly what it was that first got me into it, all I remember is watching ESPN as a kid when Eric Lindros was in the draft and there was all this buzz surrounding him. He ended up getting picked by the Flyers, and I started following them just to see what all the fuss was about. I've been hooked ever since. Being that I love the sport such as I do, I tend to get really excited whenever a movie comes along that in any way features it. Hell, I even went and saw Sudden Death, the Van Damme "Die Hard" knock-off that took place in Pittsburgh during game seven of a Penguins/Blackhawks Stanley Cup Finals series. Needless to say, good hockey movies are few and far between. Enter Goon, the latest from Fubar director Michael Dowse starring Sean William Scott. Does it live up to the legacy set forth by the Hanson brothers way back in 1977's classic "Slap Shot" or is it just another disappointment, further assuring hockey's almost non-existant fan base in the USofA?
The titular Goon is Doug Glatt, a bouncer who is just a couple of beers short of a six pack. Seen as a disappointment in his parent's eyes, constantly in the shadow of his brother who is a doctor, Doug isn't good at much except breaking bones. He's also a hockey fan though, and when he and a friend are attending a local minor league hockey game, Doug gets noticed by the home team's coach when he pummels a player from the opposing team who climbed into the stands to go after Dougy's foul mouthed best friend Ryan. When asked if he'd consider trying out for the team, Doug sees an opportunity to make his family proud, and finally make something of himself. Used primarily as a bruiser, he pummels his way through game after game, earning a name for himself, and helping spark his under-achieving team back to it's winning ways.
Let me say this right now, there's Slap Shot and then there's Goon. Sure there are a couple of other decent hockey flicks, Mystery Alaska and Miracle come to mind, but those are different kinds of hockey flicks. Goon comes closer than any other to actually getting the feeling, the brutality, the beauty of the sport of hockey since Slap Shot did it way back in 77. Goon is absolutely hilarious but not in any kind of a slap-sticky way. Think "The Water Boy" but not stupid. What would a hockey movie be without violence? This is where Goon really compares to Slap Shot. There are some brutal scenes in this movie, a couple of times even coming close to what I'd call gory. Nobody's getting decapitated, but there are bones being broken, teeth being knocked out, and blood goes flying on several occasions.
Sean William Scott has never been a favorite of mine, but I actually thought he did a great job here. The real stars of Goon though, are his teammates. I laughed out loud at almost every single scene that took place in their locker room. The characters are all different, and all of whom had their own quirks that the actors seemed to just go with. The result was exactly like what I'd expect to be looking at were I to ever find myself sitting in a semi-pro hockey organization's locker room. That's not to say Goon is perfect, there were some little things I didn't care for, mostly having to do with Alison Pill, as Doug's love interest Eva. Their whole romance felt forced to me, and a little out of place. Couple that with the fact that Eva was a pretty detestable character in my opinion anyway, and it really took me out of the movie a bit as I couldn't help but hate her and want them to get back to the hockey and fighting.
When all is said and done, Goon is a sports movie. If you don't dig sports movies, this one won't change your mind. If the kind of sports movies you like are more of the "Remember the Titans" or "Hoosiers" sort, then it probably isn't for you either. But if you like your sports movie with some dark humor, and maybe a little bit of blood and violence, then definitely give it a shot, even if hockey might not be your thing. As for my fellow puck heads, this is a no-brainer. Goon is as close to recapturing that Slap Shot magic as we're ever likely to see, and I loved it.