I am not a film critic by any stretch of the imagination, so I won't be talking about things like cinematography or the finer points of criticism. I promised Jay Baruchel that I'd write up a review for Goon after I was privileged enough to see an advanced copy, then to be invited to the premiere and watch the finished product on the big screen. So what I'll do here is first, answer the most important question; Is "Goon" worth your 10-12 bucks to see in theaters? And secondly, I'll recount the premiere for those interested and discuss some of the controversy surrounding the movie and it's ad campaign.
Disclaimer: when it comes to NHL hockey, I am not a fan of the players commonly referred to as goons or enforcers. I've written about it before and stand by those statements as I don't believe they have a positive impact on teams. That doesn't mean I have anything against those players, I just prefer going with talent over toughness. When fights happen I'll stand up and cheer my team's players like anyone would, but I believe the question about whether or not our game should allow fighting at all is a fair one.
That said, if you're a fan of hockey, this movie is unequivocally worth your money to see in theaters. What's captured here is some of the little things about hockey that just haven't been translated to film before. It is not just a comedy where everything works out in the end, there's a certain poignant seriousness to the film amongst it's unapologetic vulgar language and violence (neither of those things are negatives for me, but they may be to some).
Above all, I think "Goon" tells the story of a man who doesn't fit in with his family's preferred career path, and the costs of doing the job he ends up being good at. I want to emphasize that the little things are what's most important about this movie, and they get them right. From the way the main character, Doug Glatt (played by Seann William Scott) acts after "scoring" his first ever goal, to the way he acts about the Halifax Highlanders' crest on the floor of the dressing room.
"Goon" also does a great job showing that it's not all roses being a professional hockey player, and especially not for an enforcer. Doug Glatt is a simple, fun-loving character, but he's based on a real person (Doug Smith) who had real hardships. He does get battered and bruised.
Along with the nods to hockey stories and the realities of the game, there are some really solid performances. Seann William Scott in particular put out probably the best role of his career. While his character is heavy handed as far as punching goes, Scott does an excellent job showing the subtlety of his character's personality, and how he expresses himself as an admittedly simple man. Allison Pill, as always, is a treat to watch as an unorthodox female lead character with some problems of her own to work through. Liev Schreiber adds a certain gravitas to the movie in his role as Newfoundlander Ross 'The Boss' Rhea, including a nice Marty McSorley style mullet. The most surprising performance for me was Marc-Andre Grondin who was great in his portrayal of a Mike Ribeiro-esque talented douche bag who'd fallen off the rails.
Don't be thrown off by my sentimentality about the hockey part of the movie though, it's still a hilarious movie. I don't want to give anything else away, so you'll just have to take my word for it. This is a quintessentially Canadian movie, made by Canadians, for Canadians with (mostly) Canadian actors. It deserves your support.
It was a cool experience for someone who's never been at anything like that before. From the introduction of the cast and watching the movie to the after-party with an open bar and mini-poutines. The opportunity to meet people like TSN990's Conor McKenna and TSN's John Lu was exciting for me because they're people I admire in the sports media industry.
Being in the same room as Seann William Scott reduced my wife to a beet red, silent statue. Yes ladies, he's very attractive. Everyone was approachable and in a good mood.
Getting to meet Jay's fiancee was a treat as well, as Allison could not possibly be more personable, even after I mixed up a word that could have rendered that conversation incredibly awkward.
Liev Schreiber was cool and intimidatingly large.
Ricky Mabe, who plays the enthusiastic John Stevenson was particularly cool and we had a good chat.
It was a really cool experience and one I'd like to thank Jay for affording me.
There's been some controversy about the poster for Goon that's featured at the top of this article. Specifically the controversy has been about the gesture that Jay Baruchel is doing in the poster, and if it's inappropriate for the public. The most commonly mentioned complaint is what parents should say to their kids about the gesture if asked. Here's an idea, say "he's making a funny face" and be done with it, and stop being so sensitive. Nothing about the gesture is offensive unless you yourself make it so.
The other major controversy about the movie is that it glorifies violence. Really? Is that what we're going to take from this movie? If you can watch TV shows like "Game of Thrones" or "Boardwalk Empire", watch movies like "Inglourious Basterds", or even the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, you can't complain about a couple of fist fights. Violence in movies isn't new, and it's affect on society is about nil. It's a movie, not reality. It's spectacle. Grow up and enjoy the movie going experience.
"Goon" opens across Canada tonight.