“Great performances, hilarious jokes, and an almost unmatched level of immersion make Goon one hell of a ride.”
Last night I watched Goon and I have to say that I loved it just as much as the day I first saw it. Goon is a movie about Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott), a bouncer who’s not the swiftest board in the train track but god dammit he’s got heart. Looking for purpose in his life, Doug stumbles into a career in hockey where he essentially protects his teammates by beating the shit out of other players. This culminates into Doug squaring-off with Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), a man who had a similar career-path to Doug himself.
If you’ve seen Goon I think it pretty much goes without saying that it is quite possibly the most Canadian movie ever made. It accomplishes this not only because it is about hockey, but it is about the entire cult-following around hockey. We get to see the insane players, the rabid fans, and the intense on-the-ice action. Really my review is just going to be outlining how Goon manages to recreate these feelings, so let’s just get into it. The first thing I want to talk about are the performances. Goon features so many brilliant performances that it’s going to be hard to list them all, but let’s give it a shot. First off you have Sean William Scott doing a wonderful job as Doug “The Thug” Glatt. When watching Goon I found that almost all of Doug’s character is made up of subtleties that Scott manages to sneak into scenes. Doug isn’t stupid, but he’s not the brightest guy either. Sometimes it takes him a minute to catch on to social cues, and sometimes they just fly by him entirely; and I know all of this because of Scott’s performance. Sean William Scott is able to get this look in his eyes that is so innocent but yet completely vacant. He is able to do a brilliant yet subtle double take that completely sells a joke; and let’s not forget about his child-like smile that really sells that character of Doug Glatt. Through Scott’s performance you can see everything you need to know about Doug: He’s a sweet guy who cares so much for everyone he meets, but at the same time he is learning to stand up for himself and do what makes him happy for a change. This is something we all can relate to, and it’s what makes Doug Glatt such a great character. On the opposite side of this you have Liev Schreiber’s portrayal of Ross “The Boss” Rhea, a veritable “Ghost of Christmas Future” for Doug. Rhea doesn’t seem like he shares many of Doug’s character traits, but he knows what the future holds for Doug. He knows that people like them are only good when they fight, and they can’t fight forever. This creates an interesting conflict inside of Rhea because he obviously dislikes Doug, most likely because Doug is his replacement in a manner of speaking, but at the same time he feels bad for him. Rhea knows what this way of living can do to a guy, and he wants to warn Doug but can’t get over that hate that he has for him. This is all conveyed in Schreiber’s wonderful performance that is both aggressive and refined. And don’t even get me started on the team dynamic present in Goon. This fucking motley crew of hockey players are some of the funniest characters I have ever seen in a movie. They hate each other, but as soon as they get on the ice they know how to work together. I could honestly ramble on for another two pages going over why every single character in Goon is wonderful, but I think you get the point.
Another thing that Goon has going for it is the amount of comedy present throughout the film. When watching Goon there was barely any time where I didn’t at least have a smile on my face. I now that art is subjective, and comedy might be the most subjective of it all, but I personally found Goon fucking hilarious. The quick-witted banter between teammates, the inability for Doug to pick up on really anything that was going on, the outlandish scenarios that would bring out the most bizarre dialogue; all of it works wonderfully. The movie is as crass as can be, but it just works. Both the hilarious scenarios and the quotability that Goon has is almost off the charts, and that makes it one of the best movies to put on when you’re feeling blue. And before I get into the last discussion point I think I should mention that Goon’s soundtrack is absolutely amazing. The songs used were not only great songs, but they captured the feeling of the movie so well. Goon is hilarious and it has amazing performances from everyone involved, but what really stands out to me when watching Goon is how the action in the film is conveyed. Goon is a movie about fighting, but I think we’ll save that for last. One thing I want to touch on is how the actual games of hockey are shot, and why it works so well. Hockey is a fast-paced sport; motherfuckers are flying around a tiny rink chasing an even tinier puck and god forbid anyone get in there way. The problem is, watching hockey from an outside perspective doesn’t really sell this feeling. Sure, you can respect the sport if you a re familiar with it, but if you aren’t then it would just look like a few guys floating around occasionally hitting one another; that’s why Goon’s direction and editing are so great. Goon takes the audience and throws them right in the middle of the rink. We can appreciate the severity of the sport because now we are in the shit. These inventive camera angles and quick cuts make sure that we are fully immersed in this sport, and it does a great job of it. The way that the hockey portions of Goon are shot are only matched by the way the violence in Goon is shot. Hockey, as I mentioned, is a very fast-paced sport, but everything slows down when two guys pop off their gloves and start to duke it out. Goon capitalizes on this by making a lot of its fight scenes drawn out, to really make sure that you understand the damage that is being done. It’s another matter of immersion; Goon wants you to feel every single blow that is landing. But don’t be mistaken, these drawn-out shots of gratuitous violence are complimented with some more fast-paced action that really highlights just how fast these fights are occurring. Blow after blow after blow in a matter of seconds leaves you wondering: 1. What the hell just happened? and 2. How is that guy still standing? The way that Goon portrays violence is interesting because it skirts the line of glorifying it, while also condemning it at points. We get to cheer along with the crowd when Doug is kicking the shit out of somebody, but sometimes the tides turn and we get a gruesome look at the reality of these fights. Some of these scenes even managed to get guttural reactions out of me, as if I was the one getting hit. Experiences like this take Goon from ‘good’ to ’great’.
Goon is a movie that I think everyone should see. Great performances, hilarious jokes, and an almost unmatched level of immersion make Goon one hell of a ride. And besides, if you’re Canadian I think watching Goon should be mandatory.
I give Goon an A