91 min. (plus extras)
$26.98 (DVD)/$29.98 (Blu-ray)/$34.98 (DVD and Blu-Ray Combo)
Available May 29
Grade: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
More than once, I’ve heard people react to this latest movie from Magnolia Picture’s Magnet label, Goon, in the following way: It’s funnier than they thought it would be. Agreed. This outlandish story about a big-hearted bouncer who finds his calling as a hockey tough shouldn’t be this funny. Part of it is the cast and the unorthodox roles therein, and part of it is the writing and directing. Together, it works.
Co-star and geek character actor Jay Baruchel teamed with Evan Goldberg for the script, which has many memorable one-liners and even more laugh-out-loud moments. There are slower parts, but they never become too slow and the humor keeps it lively.
The actors, for the most part, are asked to step out of their status quo Hollywood comfort zone. Seann William Scott: He’s known for playing quick-witted, self-absorbed, loudmouthed, obnoxious jerks. Here, he’s a taciturn, humble guy who truly cares about the well-being of his friends, his teammates, and his brother more than himself. Baruchel: He has made his career out of playing unconfident, quiet, socially awkward types who are too smart for their own good. Here, he’s an obnoxious manboy who never shuts up and whose life is hockey and loving the mayhem of the sport. Even Eugene Levy, who plays a minor character as the father of Scott’s Doug Glatt, doesn’t follow his modus operandi. I know: Levy playing the protagonist’s father in an adult comedy starring Seann William Scott — what a stretch. However, this father figure is an egotistical jerk who can’t summon any pride in his bouncer son or his other son, an Ivy League grad who’s only and insurmountable ”sin” (in his father’s eyes) is that he’s gay.
Despite having no clue about how to skate, after accidentally making his way into pro hockey minor leagues, Glatt inevitably works his way up to the bigger (but not NHL) leagues, and there he encounters his obvious nemesis and longtime league terror-master, Ross Rhea, played stupendously by Liev Schreiber. It’s all done riddled with overblown pugilistic bloodiness, incessant foul language, and mother-degrading humor, just as you’d hope a hockey comedy would.
Goon goes through the usual stages of this movie type, so there’s no particular brilliance in terms of cinematic or genre innovation. However, it embraces what it is, and is made so, so good within that. Moreover, even when the movie seems to have turned completely one way, an unexpected line of dialogue suddenly leaves you rolling with laughter. Points to director Michael Dowse for having a keen eye for editing and character development.
And, oh yeah, the movie is based on a true story.
So is there a downside to the disc? Yeah, the extras. They range from merely lame (“Fighting 101″) to downright tedious and pointless (“Power Play Mode”). There’s not much here unless you’re a die-hard Baruchel/Scott/Schreiber/hockey fan.
Nonetheless, Goon is a superb sports movie that deserves to be seen by any comedy fan, be they hockey enthusiast or no.
Ray Sidman is a former associate editor and longtime reviewer for Comics Buyer’s Guide. Read his reviews in CBG each month. You can read more Ray’s Reviews here.
(Image (c)2012 Magnolia Home Entertainment)