Goon (review)

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Seann William Scott in Goon

So, Seann William Scott (Cop Out) is sort of like Forrest Gump. No, I mean in this Goon movie. He’s not very bright — he stumbles over uttering his own name in one scene, and it’s not that hard: Doug Glatt. We’re meant to find him “sweet,” even though he beats up people for a living. He is a minor-league-hockey player, in the narrowest sense of the term: he’s on the ice to beat up opposing players and indulge the fans’ lust for gladiatorial blood sports on the ice. I think it’s also somehow meant to be “funny” that Doug is Jewish and Neanderthal-brutish, which is probably a slur on Neanderthals but is, in the hormonal-teenage-boy calculus of this “comedy,” something of a fist-bump to Jews, apparently. (“You’re like the Hebrew Dolph Lundgren or something!” Doug’s horrendously crude pal [Jay Baruchel: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice] cries with glee.) Isn’t it cute how vicious assault that, off the ice, would constitute a felony is, on the ice, a Good Show? (I’m seeing now that this is all sorta insulting to Forrest Gump, too, who is as gentle as can be.) Based on the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Doug Smith and Adam Frattasio [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada], and adapted — very loosely, I’m guessing — for the screen by Evan Goldberg (The Green Hornet) and Baruchel, this is the tale of a man who is “touched by the fist of God” and called to commit violence in the arena, all presented with a kind of sick grandeur — or mock grandeur; it’s hard to tell which — by director Michael Dowse, who figures you weren’t put off him enough by his appallingly awful Take Me Home Tonight and need another reason to avoid his future work. This is the sort of movie that presents the duality of two brothers who are equally disappointing to their parents because one is a subverbal brute (that would be Doug) and the other is an Ivy League-educated doctor who is gay (that would be Doug’s brother Ira [David Paetkau])… but then expects to be excused from its homophobia by having Doug beat the living shit out of someone who uses “faggot” as a derogatory. Oh, and it’s adorable, too, because Doug finds “romance” with a sad, sad girl (Alison Pill: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) who is drawn to thuggish men. Charming. “Garbage blows in my face sometimes,” Doug says at one point. It’s this movie, dude. It’s this movie.

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Tue, Jan 14, 2014 11:03pm

Late to the party, but finally saw this last night. I’d have given it a yellow light with the caveat of “for people who play hockey and who get the jokes that come in an excessively testosterone-charged male atmosphere”. There is also a lot of wordplay…which appeals to the punner inside me. (Glatt is yiddish for smooth-lunged meat (not damaged, not traife), or, more loosely, “strict”…like “strictly kosher”. So the comment from his father about “You might as well still have Security on the back of your jersey” kind of links to that, too.)

Great movie? No. But a helluva lot better story and character illustration to me than the one I saw a couple of days before: Chasing Mavericks. I found Doug more complex and self-aware than anyone in that movie.

I do wish that the soundtrack at the end of the Glatt-Rhea fight had the refrain of Kris Kristofferson’s song “New Mister Me”. Would have been appropriate given the conversation in the diner.

Now, I totally get your take on it. And, I’d like to take this opportunity to call out to long-gone commenters on this thread who implicitly or explicitly were throwing around “misandrist” or “snob”: go fuck yerselves.

I’d also like to say that in many ways I think commenter Karl nails the character. I disagree with him that Doug is without subtleness or layers. He is clumsy, yes, but his deep longing to be part of something, to belong, to have his “thing”…which, hell, his well-educated brother gets…gives him a tragic dimension.

Not a great movie, but, it wasn’t a waste of my time.