Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another review from ActionFest!
Loaded up on Cheerwine (a southern soda that is like Big Red and Dr. Pepper had a delicious baby) I settled into my first film at the fest, GOON starring Seann William Scott. Now, it may be the nostalgia of sitting in a theater like The Carolina, which was the kind of multiplex I used to ride my bike to as a kid… pre-stadium seating, slanted floor, narrow, rectangular (instead of square) theaters… but judging from the response from my colleagues who saw Goon on its VOD run I don’t think I’m alone in saying this movie is fucking great.
Seann William Scott has long been an MVP actor. He’s been in good movies and bad movies, but in either he’s almost always the one giving it 110% (I’m looking at you Cop Out). For the life of me I don’t understand why Goon is on the limited theatrical release/VOD plan. It’s the kind of movie that could easily pull in $30-$40 million with a decent marketing push.
Scott plays a dumb as bricks nice guy bouncer who has an almost superhuman ability to deal out and receive punishment. This fact is discovered when a local hockey player attacks his annoying sports-blogger friend (Jay Baruchel) and this tough-guy player literally breaks his hand trying to punch Scott in the forehead.
Written by Baruchel and Superbad’s Evan Goldberg (surprisingly based on a real story, by the way), this flick has all the fun of the best Apatow film and all the heart of a great sports movie… and this comes from a guy who’s never watched a full game of hockey in his life.
While hockey is the venue, the actual games have little importance. The film becomes a countdown to two gladiators entering the ring with each other. In one corner you have the likeable Doug Glatt (Scott), in the other you have the mad dog of the sport, Ross Rhea (Live Schreiber), an aging brute who sends players to the hospital.
Goldberg’s strengths as a comedy writer are in full on display here, especially when it comes to writing unique supporting characters. The mix-matched group of loveable delinquents on the team are hilarious and so over the top that skate right up to that line between funny and parody. One more inch and they would have been Val Kilmer’s squad in Top Secret.
While the exaggerated supporting cast is great, this really is Seann William Scott’s time to shine. It’s a surprisingly nuanced leading comic performance, actually. On the surface he’s just a dummy with a heart of gold, but Doug Glatt is almost Gumpian in his simple outlook on life. In playing a character without a lot of gray areas (he knows right and wrong and nothing else really exists outside those extremes) Scott still somehow injects complexity into Doug, especially with his interactions with the B-plot, a twist on a Rocky-esque love story with Scott Pilgrim’s Alison Pill.
Scott isn’t the only one bringing his all to this movie. Liev Schreiber is a perfect rival, with just enough character development to keep him from being a one-note villain, but not too much so that the mystery of the threat he imposes is eroded.
In fact, everybody brings it, whether you know their name or not. Kim Coates is great as the coach and everybody on the team are great personalities that add up to make this goofy movie a rich comedy tapestry.
At every turn Goldberg and Baruchel avoid expectation while delivering a laugh-out-loud funny hard R rated comedy. This is a quotable movie, a movie that’s easy to invest in emotionally and one that played like gangbusters in this theater full of DTV action lovers. I can’t imagine how much money they lost not pushing it for a real deal theatrical distribution.
I think Goon will have a shelf-life as rewarding as Office Space. It just has to find its audience and that audience is simple: people who like to laugh. That’s all that’s needed to enjoy this movie. There’s a wide array of comedy squeezed into this film, from sight gags to dumb humor to well-constructed character humor. Goon is better then 90% of big studio comedies and those tend to find their audiences.