'Goon' delivers a glorified portrait of hockey enforcers
Seann William Scott in Alliance Films' 'Goon'
Richard Crouse, Canada AM film critic
Published Friday, February 24, 2012 11:42AM EST
If "Goon," the new film about Canada's favourite sport starring Jay Baruchel and Seann William Scott, could be summed up in one image it would be of a tooth soaring through the air in slow motion.
The airborne bloody Chiclet is as significant a symbol to "Goon" as Mona Lisa's smirk was to High Renaissance painting and open "g" tuning is to Keith Richards's guitar. The tooth, and the punch that dislodged it, are celebrated by the film as an essential part of the game.
Like its main character the movie is violent, sweet and a little dimwitted. Unlike other sports films "Goon" doesn't use the game as a metaphor for, or a microcosm of, real life. The flying tooth is just that, a tooth dislodged by a mighty punch to the mouth, but beyond the broken teeth and smelly jock straps, the film does have philosophical messages: Loyalty matters, doing the right thing is crucial and understanding your purpose and place makes for a happy life.
In some ways the messages are very Zen, except for the bloody mouths, scabby fingers and the aforementioned flying tooth.
But rather than focus on the philosophical it chooses to romanticize its subject. Enforcers are glorified -- "You've been touched by the fist of god." They are compared to soldiers -- "Everybody loves soldiers," says LS, "until they stop fighting and come home." They are men whose job it is to lay their personal safety on the line for the benefit of others.
In the world created by the movie, I suppose it's true, but that sentiment might ring more clearly if Doug wasn't such a dolt. Perhaps if he thought before he threw a punch we as an audience might see his actions as more of a statement of personal beliefs and less as a simple gladiatorial display.
"Goon" does capture the rough and rowdy feel of minor league hockey. It's profane enough to make the Hanson Brothers blush and violent enough to convince Paul Henderson to buy a helmet. Fun stuff, particularly if you're a hockey fan.
Three and a half stars out of five.