MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m not a hockey fan. Heck, I’m not a sports fan at all. My home town has a professional hockey team (the Columbus Blue Jackets), and I’ve been to a couple games, but I’m not at all into the sport. However, there’s a rapid fan base out there for hockey, and it’s not just from our neighbors to the north.
However, like any good sports movie, it’s not about the love of the game that makes the film. It’s about the characters and story. In this respect, “Goon” is plenty fun, and for as violent as it is, it’s a sweet film with a lot of heart.
Seann William Scott plays Doug Glatt, a relatively simple guy whose best job he can get is a bouncer at a bar. After a scuffle with a hockey player in the stands, Doug catches the eye of the local coach. Using his penchant for fighting and tough exterior, Doug soon becomes a star of the team as an enforcer to keep the other players safe. He works his way up into the bigger leagues and ends up in Nova Scotia. There, he falls for a local girl and faces a showdown against another one of hockey’s greatest enforcers.
What makes “Goon” work isn’t the hockey sequences, though the entire film is made with plenty of love for the sport. Instead, it’s Doug’s rough exterior to a really sweet guy that sells the film. He’s honorable, loyal and honest. The emotional connection he shares with the somewhat loose Eva (Allison Pill) is dysfunctional but undeniable adorable.
This is not to say that Doug Glatt is the Forrest Gump of hockey movies. It’s not a question of Doug’s intelligence, or lack thereof. He’s not presented as a guy with a mental deficiency. And that’s a relief in an industry with films that use mental retardation and various forms of autism as a crutch upon which to build an interesting character. Instead, Doug is just an average guy destined for an average life. His talent is toughness and violence, ironically juxtaposed against his gentle demeanor. In a different time, he’d be a warrior knight, but in modern society, his talents are best used on the ice.
I know plenty of hockey fans who have gone gaga over this movie. So if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely enjoy it. But more importantly, “Goon” is a film about honor, love and loyalty that transcends its subject matter and can connect to a larger audience if they give it a chance.
The movie itself is charming (though violent) enough, but the extra boost comes from some nice special features, even on the DVD. The “Power Play Mode” provides about 40 minutes of interstitial elements embedded throughout the film. There’s also quite a few deleted scenes, along with an outtakes and bloopers reel. Jay Baruchel joins director Michael Dowse for a commentary track. Additional features include “Goalie Auditions,” “Fighting 101,” “HDNet: A Look at Goon,” the theatrical trailer and “Goon” hockey cards.