Well, GOON just thoroughly gobsmacked me.
Let me back up a bit. I try not to be judgmental against any movies. But even then, some slip through the cracks. And in this day and age, I need to change my sensibilities a little bit. You see, VOD is really coming into its own - has been for a while now. But I'm still a stickler for the theatrical experience, and I try to see everything I can in the theater. So, when it comes to those movies that go VOD first before hitting the theatrical window, I tend to blow them off. "I'll wait for the theater," I say to myself, even though I know that a hockey movie like GOON probably won't play a country mile from Houston, Texas. But then Beaks raved about it. And then one by one, a lot of reviewers I admire did the same. So, I bit the bullet and did the VOD thing.
There are movies out there that I call, in the parlance of TRUE ROMANCE's Clarence Worley, "Great Fuckin' Movies." DIE HARD's a GFM. So's RIO BRAVO. So's HEAT, and ROCKY, and PREDATOR, and Carpenter's THE THING, and so on. They aren't necessarily awards winners, but when you're done, you sit back, with a satisfied sigh, itch firmly scratched, and say to no one in particular, "That was a Great Fuckin' Movie." Well, GOON is a Great Fuckin' Movie. It delivers on every level - humor, emotion, action, and terrific acting from none other than Seann William Scott, who has just made the performance of his career so far. And I'm not even a hockey fan.
Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is a bouncer at the local bar, a nice enough guy who apologizes after punching the crap out of people who cross the line. He and his friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel, who also co-wrote the hilarious script with Evan Goldberg) are also hockey fans - Ryan has a web show about the subject which highlights all the impressive beatdowns of the week. They especially admire Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), a goon who has never been taken down in the rink and whose fights are the stuff of legend. Rhea's on the downslope of his career, playing minor league hockey for one final year before he retires.
At a local match, Ryan riles up one of the players in the penalty box, who goes after him in the stands. But Doug clinically, methodically, takes him down, helmet and all. It gets the attention of the team coach, and before he realizes it Doug's training how to skate and is on the team. He's simply there to do what he does best - take down the other guys and get them fighting and penalized so that Doug's team can score. Eventually, Doug's skills get him noticed by the Halifax Highlanders, a team just below the major leagues, and puts him on a collision course with Rhea, goon vs. goon, the greatest vs. the up-and-comer.
Seann William Scott has never been better as Doug Glatt. He's a nice Jewish boy, trying to live up to his parents' (Eugene Levy and Ellen David) high expectations - Doug's other brother is a doctor, but Doug simply doesn't have the mental faculties to do that. Plus, there's Eva (Alison Pill), who digs hockey players and obviously likes Doug a lot, but there's the fact that she's already got a boyfriend. Doug's life wasn't nearly as complicated when he bounced, and Scott plays him as an honorable man who knows his limitations, but he also knows what he's good at. He's fiercely loyal, especially to Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), and Xavier can barely stand Doug at all. Most of all, Doug's loyal to his team. He's their knight in shining jersey, and woe to any other players who cross him.
Liev Schreiber is also great as Rhea - he's a man who once had dreams of being a great player, but figured out his place a long time ago and has made peace with it. He's the shark of the movie, and you know that Glatt and Rhea will have to face off eventually. But the movie plays up that moment appropriately. The supporting cast also does good work, especially Pill and Baruchel. There's a camaraderie to the performances that feels genuine and makes the movie so rich and enjoyable.
The script by Baruchel and Goldberg is terrific. It's funny, but also rich with emotion. The movie moves very well as directed by Michael Dowse (IT'S ALL GONE PETE TONG) - a lesser film would have had the entire skate training sequence take three times as long, and instead we're right in the middle of the story with very little wasted time. When sports movies work, they can glide by all the cliches with charm and spirit, and while GOON doesn't exactly break the mold genre-wise, it's got more charm and spirit than it knows what to do with.
GOON is available now on Video On Demand, and will soon be in theaters - it already is in some places. I feel a little late to the game writing this, but I don't care - GOON is too much of a good time not to talk about. It's rumored that Scott jumped ship from Kevin Smith's HIT SOMEBODY to make this, and although I know next-to-nothing about Smith's script, judging from GOON alone I'd say he made the right choice. GOON does what all Great Fuckin' Movies do - they make everything right in the world, at least for the space of an hour and a half. Comparisons to SLAP SHOT are unavoidable, obviously, but GOON may be the first hockey movie since that film to stand up tall and proud, smiling bloodily, with several teeth missing.