ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT FILMORIA
Doug (Seann William Scott) is a nice guy working as a bouncer. When a local hockey coach realises his ability to beat people up, he enlists Doug to the team to help them to fight their way to the top. The team is finally on the road to glory, and Doug finally gets the chance to show his brainy family that he can succeed.
Like most sports movies, Goon is an underdog story. Doug is a man who has been told that he will never succeed, and even when the team is finally winning games, his family is less than supportive. So from the start, we are rooting for this guy to do well. Not only is Doug an underdog, but he is a really nice guy; a little dumb, maybe, but a simple guy with simple pleasures and downright nice. The story is not dissimilar to any number of sports movies, but Doug is not a hockey player, he is a fighting machine, on skates.
Seann William Scott does fairly well with the material that he is given. He keeps Doug as simple as possible and allows the charm of the character to shine; this is not a man who enjoys fighting, but he has finally discovered his talent in this world. It is one of the most rounded performances that Scott has given to date, and it is clear that he enjoyed playing a character that had more to him that a good catchphrase.
The characters that orbit around Doug are riddled with issues; the overly aggressive best friend played by Jay Baruchel whose bromantic love for his friend borders on obnoxious, the damaged hockey pro Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin) whose career is on the skids, and the hero/opponent Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) who is both Doug’s inspiration and his nemesis. The characters are dysfunctional to say the least, but they work quite well with the mono-syllabic Doug, as most of them talk like it’s going out of style.
Allison Pill plays the love interest, Eva; a woman who refuses to cheat on her boyfriend but enjoys seeing hockey players having the stuffing beaten out of them. Her character is as messed up as the rest, but her presence in his life gives Doug something to fight for.
The problem with Goon is it’s just not funny. The film relies on crass humour to try and keep the audience entertained, but these gags fall as flat as Doug as he tries to get used to his skates. The violent fist fights between players on the ice break up the whining in the locker room, and these are designed so that the audience sees every drop of blood and every loose tooth. This is fine, but it is hard to mix violence with bromantic comedy and this is where the film falters.
Writers Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg could have delivered a much more structured script, with a character whose motivations we knew, and who went through enough personal changes to be actually called ‘a protagonist’ but it feels as though they felt Kevin Smith’s upcoming film ‘Hit Somebody’ breathing down their necks and decided to get their film out first. It’s a shame, because there is something endearing about Doug, and the idea that a man is hired by a sports team to fight is an interesting one, but the film is let down by it’s script.
In all, Goon is a change of pace for both it’s lead actor and Liev Schreiber and it’s great to see them both do something different. With a tighter script, Goon may have been the new Dodgeball, but as it stands, it’s more like the new Balls of Fury.