Chances are, if you’re British, of a certain vintage and a lover of surrealist comedy, the word goon probably conjures up fond memories of Neddie, Eccles, Moriarty and Bluebottle, the Ying Tong Song and the Dreaded Lurgy.
stupid, foolish or awkward person
hired hoodlum or thug,
enforcer or fighter (ice hockey)
if you’re British, of a certain vintage and a lover of surrealist comedy, the
word goon probably conjures up fond
memories of Neddie, Eccles, Moriarty and Bluebottle, the Ying Tong Song and the
Dreaded Lurgy. From 1951 to
1960, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers spread mayhem in The
Goon Show and accidentally gave birth to Monty Python and the alternative comedy scene. If you go into Goon expecting anarchic
English eccentrics hitting each other in the face and speaking in funny voices
you’re going to be disappointed.
What you are going to get is Stifler from the American Pie movies hitting a bunch of Canadians in the face in an
ice hockey comedy that owes more to the Paul
Newman-starring Slap Shot than
human/chipmunk hybrid Emilio Estevez’s
The Mighty Ducks.
In sorta/kinda/not really true story Goon, Stifler (Seann William Scott) plays Doug the
Thug, a likable, good-natured doofus who can’t skate worth a damn but can soak
up punishment and dole it out. A
man of few words, Doug lets his fists do the talking when his motor-mouthed
best bud (the annoyingly offensive Jay
Baruchel who also scripted) picks a fight at a hockey game, knocking out
the local team’s bogeyman and finding himself offered a place on the team as
its new goon; the guy in ice hockey whose role on the team is simply to beat up
the other team and generally scare the bejesus out of them.
An embarrassment to his snotty Ivy League-Jewish family of
doctors, Doug finds fame (or at least infamy) and a sense of purpose as a goon
and is soon promoted from the local league to minor league team the Halifax
Highlanders, winning the heart of adorable hockey slut Eva (an adorable Alison Pill). His role in the team is simply to protect burnt-out star
player Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre
Grondin) who’s lost his nerve and lost himself in drugs and women after
being hospitalised by league bad boy Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber); the king of the hockey goons and Doug’s hero.
As the Highlanders battle their way to the play-offs, it’s
only a matter of time before Doug and Rhea meet on the ice…
A raucous, foul-mouthed comedy that’s as much a Western as
it is a triumph of the underdog sports movie, Goon is remarkably sweet-natured
despite the amount of blood it splashes across the ice. Seann William Scott brings a puppy-like
vulnerability and sweetness to the naive, lunk-headed Doug, his goofy charm
sweetening the brutality of the violence. While Eugene Levy is rather wasted as Doug’s father, Alison Pill brings a
girl-next-door sweetness to her role as hockey slut and love interest Eva and
Grondin makes the spoiled, dissolute Laflamme sympathetic against the
odds. With his world-weary air and
white-trash bandito moustache, Schreiber is a fierce presence as Rhea, more
aging gunfighter than out-and-out villain, and his eventual showdown with Scott
is a heart-swelling moment of catharsis.
This is ice hockey as gladiatorial combat.
A hilarious, bruising 90 minutes, Goon may struggle to
find a UK cinema audience but how can you not love a film that describes its
main character as “gay porn hard”?