Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Jan 3 2012They may have given the world Mack Sennett, Mort Sahl and Dan Aykroyd, but in recent years Canada’s standing on the international comedy stage has been somewhere just north of North Korea. By which token, the prognosis wasn’t good for ‘Goon’, a slapstick underdog sports story following the exploits of one Doug ‘The Thug’ Glatt (Seann William Scott), a foulmouthed ‘enforcer’ for a minor league hockey team whose talent for violence becomes a major asset on the rink. But thankfully, ‘Goon’ is more than simply Stifler on Ice, thanks to a smart script from co-star Jay Baruchel and ‘Superbad’ writer Evan Goldberg, a nice line in bonecrunching action from ‘It’s All Gone Pete Tong’ director Michael Dowse, and a bizarrely heartwarming central turn from Scott.
Glatt, based on real-life hockey player Doug Smith, is a fool who knows he’s a fool: a rock-headed but essentially good-natured lunk who simply enjoys a good scrap. His story is one of rags to slightly better rags, as success in the sub-minor American leagues leads to a gig with a sinking Canadian team. What follows is predictable but pleasing: Glatt meets a girl (Alison Pill), argues and reconciles with his colleagues, and carries the team inexorably towards the championships.
Solid rather than spectacular, ‘Goon’ suffers from a slight storyline and an aggravating tendency towards sub-‘Superbad’ pottymouth banter. But its strengths are many: Dowse keeps things moving at a clip, and the crisp photography lends a powerful sense of those bleak, blue-collar towns along the US-Canadian border. The supporting cast is strong – Baruchel, Vincent d’Onofrio, and Canuck comedy stalwart Eugene Levy all muck in gamely. But it’s Scott who gives the movie its heart, delivering a performance of quiet strength and unexpected subtlety – when he’s not cracking skulls.
Author: Tom Huddleston