Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Movie: Goon (2012)

The hockey wing is the loneliest in the Sports Movie Hall of Fame, located in scenic Canoga Park, California. But what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality, because sports movies and comedies don’t come any better than Slap Shot. (HOF write-in campaigns on behalf of Youngblood and Mystery, Alaska have been met with open scorn.) At long last, though, Slap Shot will have some company, thanks to the inspired-by-a-true-story Goon.

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is good of heart, dim of wit, and short of temper. The self-described “stupid” son in a family of doctors, he doesn’t have “a thing” – until a brawl in the stands at a minor league hockey game lands him on the team as an enforcer. Before long Doug the Thug is called up to protect a highly-regarded prospect who’s never been the same since a run-in with the most fearsome goon of all, Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber, never better and absolutely terrifying).

Goon is made by Canadians (including several Judd Apatow veterans), so it treats hockey like the foul-mouthed orgy of violence it is. While it acknowledges the consequences of fighting, it baldly states that brutality is an essential part of the sport and a big reason why people watch. It also wields a truly profane sense of humor, buttressed by antic announcers, near-indecipherable Quebecois and Russian accents, multiple nods to Slap Shot, and the greatest rallying cry ever (“Gay porn hard!”). You’ve got to love any movie that stages the first encounter between The Thug and The Boss as a greasy spoon tribute to the DeNiro/Pacino coffee shop face-off in Heat. Goon is getting a small theatrical release, but it’s also available via On Demand right now.

Here’s a Grantland interview with Doug Smith, the film’s inspiration. That’s some career line: over four hundred penalty minutes, and zero goals scored.