Saturday, June 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Goon (2012) ***

R, 92 min.
Director: Michael Dowse
Writers: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg, Adam Frattasio (book), Doug Smith (book)
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grodin, Kim Coates, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy

My wife was astounded to learn one day while watching a professional hockey game that the refs would let the players actually stop the play of the game and fight each other. I’m not much of a hockey watcher myself, and this practice even boggles my mind. The new movie “Goon” is based on a true story about a hockey player, Doug “The Thug” Smith, who was drafted into the minors just for his ability to finish fights. He’d never even played hockey before.

The ever-amiable Seann William Scott, who is even able to bring a soft side to his “American Pie” a-hole character Stiffler, portrays Doug here. Scott plays Doug as such a nice guy it contrasts with his bruiser abilities, but he makes it work. He’s a lughead, but he knows it. He has three things going for him in life, his hard head, his big fists, and his ability to find kindness in his heart for everybody, no matter how poorly they treat him. This combination doesn’t present wonderful options for him because he lets everyone treat him as a doormat. Bouncing is about his only option until he finishes a fight started on the ice at a local minor league hockey game one day from the stands.

“Goon”, co-written by one of its stars Jay Baruchel, has an intimate understanding of the sport of professional hockey. It is obviously a labor of love for Baruchel and his co-writer Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”). It’s one of those movies where I could sense there were a lot of references that were going over my head. I still enjoyed it, however. Scott’s performance as a very atypical movie hero is the main reason why, but the other characters and the situations were also entertaining and even enlightening to some degree for a non-hockey fan. It’s a very violent film, because of the nature of Scott’s duties as the team’s enforcer. It’s also a lot of fun. 

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