The Evolution of Goon

If you haven't 2011's Goon then you are missing out. Sure, you may think that a movie starring Seann William Scott that came out post 2001 isn't worth your time but you'd be wrong*. Both films follow the story of a hockey enforcer named Doug "The Thug" Glatt and interestingly enough is based on real life minor league hockey player Doug Smith.

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Besides being a well executed sports flick, Goon has some truly beautiful shots that look more like an art film than a popcorn flick. That is because it was directed by Michael Dowes, a vision that was revisited in his follow up film What If and Take Me Home Tonight, a film that was released the same year as Goon. A bit of a sidetrack... Take Me Home Tonight is not everyone's favorite movie but it does pay great respect to the style and sensibility of the 1980's, but I digress. Dowes does an amazing job capturing the action on the ice, providing one of the most realistic depictions of a hockey game since Slap Shots. You'd think he would fall short when it comes to all the in between shots that normally make you want to get back to the action but he does not. For example, the diner scene between Scott's Doug "The Thug" Glatt and Liev Schreiber's Ross Rhea wherein they meet face to face for the first time is beautifully shot. It is a love child of Michael Mann and Paul Thomas Anderson. 

The film also takes it's time and despite having a budget of only $12 million it never feels cheap. The writing by Jay Baruchel and Even Goldberg provides a story that surpasses most other underdog sports films. You care for the characters and even see compassion toward the bad guy who battles his own villain in the form of Scott's younger enforcer self.

For 2017's Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, Jay Baruchel takes the helm as director and is joined by co-writer Jesse Chabot replacing Goldberg. Visually, it is obvious there has been a change in director, then again it is not Baruchel's responsibility to mirror the vision of Dowes' original either.

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The way I go into sequels (reboots and remakes) is I pretend the former never existed and see how it goes. With that in mind; Goon 2 is directed well, especially when you know this is Jay Baruchel's freshman feature, and the story is as enjoyable as the first. Lucky for Baruchel, this sequel was awarded a much larger budget and it shows. Whereas the first film used angles and cinema magic to fill in the empty seats at the arena, this film used extras and filled a much larger arena. Due largely to the success of the original, many players on the opposing teams were not just day players but actual NHL players. 

As far as sequels go, it does a lot right. instead of rehashing a lot of the same jokes and stories from the original they make slight references to little things and refreshingly they didn't feel forced or pandering. Unlike a lot of sequels almost the entire cast returned for the second outing and weren't just cameos or, even worse, caricatures of their earlier selves. Goon 2 doesn't make it's heroes godlike superhumans who are impervious to the effect of time, it does the opposite. It allows the characters to age and adapt to the wear and tear their bodies take. The main returning theme in this film is the villain of time, life and change. 

Despite receiving a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, it is a solid outting and though it doesn't quite reach the bar set by the first film, it is one I will revisit.

Now, I have great news (as of January 2018) both Goon and Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers are available on Netflix streaming. Whether you've seen them or not, I'd recommend giving them a watch. You won't be disappointed.

 

*I love Seann William Scott. Role Models... I mean, Come on.

Posted on January 4, 2018 and filed under Movie Reviews.