Kind hearts and hockey nets – Goon review

Goon - Starring Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, and Alison Pill. Directed by Michael Dowse. Rated MA. By Simon Miraudo.

Goon arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia August 8, 2012.

Seann William Scott‘s long dormant sweet side is awoken in Michael Dowse‘s bloody ice hockey comedy Goon. In fact, the bloodier the film gets, the sweeter Scott’s lion-hearted enforcer seems, cheerfully taking pucks and sticks and skates to the face with a smile, all in the service of his beloved team.

Written by Seth Rogen’s frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg and Scott’s co-star Jay Baruchel, Goon follows a lovably dim club bouncer from Massachusetts who discovers his talent of (reluctantly) beating the living snot out of people is tailor-made for the ice rink. Doug (Scott) doesn’t necessarily like violence, but he’ll stop at nothing to protect those he loves.. It’s the same mentality of NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher, whose inspiring tale was documented in Michael Lewis’ biography¬†The Blind Side (there’s also a film, but stick with the book).

Though he can barely skate, Doug makes an impression on his hometown team. Recruited by the Halifax Highlanders in Canada, Doug ‘The Thug’ becomes something of a sensation; he even garners the attention of the self-confessed perpetually-horny sports groupie Eva (Alison Pill). With notoriously violent Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) demoted to the minors, the two are set on an epic collision course. Veteran Rhea threatens the young buck: “If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the marrow, and it’s you and me, kid, I will lay you the f*** out.” When Ross wonders if he’s ready to do battle, Doug responds: “Yes. Thank you for asking.” Bless.

Scott has always been charming, but he’s not necessarily given the most charming of characters to play. If American Pie‘s Stifler works at all, it’s not because of his ceaseless ridiculousness, but thanks to the big heart underneath the raunchy veneer. Doug is easily his most lovable creation yet; a dream role for an oft-typecast actor. Schreiber is also excellent as the begrudgingly respectful but supremely bitter over-the-hill player, and supporting performers Pill, Baruchel (as his foul-mouthed best buddy), and Richard Clarkin (as the troubled Highlanders captain) are vital with the assists.

Goon, like its main character, is an eminently likable sports movie. Unlike its meat and potatoes protagonist however, it’s rather gorgeous to behold, with some fantastically thrilling hockey sequences set to the strains of an operatic score. It delivers plenty of laughs, and also, astoundingly, defies the conventions of so many movies of its ilk that have come before. What a delight.

4/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Goon arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia August 8, 2012.

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