This he-man display earns Doug a tryout for the Massachusetts farm team Orangetown Assassins. So what if he barely can skate? Donning a No. 69 jersey and the nickname of “The Thug,” Doug is quickly sent to an actual league, the Halifax Highlanders of Nova Scotia.
Based on a true story, Goon aims to be the next great hockey movie, but comes up short. Simply, the main plot holds little dramatic stakes; the climax hinges less on winning The Big Game as much as Doug having a punching match with rival Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber, Salt).
Co-writers Evan Goldberg (The Green Hornet) and actor Jay Baruchel (Good Neighbors) have crafted a script that toes the line between comedy and drama. On the comedy side, so many jokes are predicated on F-bombs and oral sex (most from Baruchel as Doug’s best bud with the unfortunate haircut combining Woody Woodpecker with frontal-lobe trauma) that unless the mere utterances of those tickle your funny bone — in which case you’re 14 — you may not find it funny at all. I laughed once, and at a throwaway moment with no dialogue.
That said, Goon has heaps of heart, embodied in Scott’s low-key work that, refreshingly, isn’t Stifler-esque in the least. It’s a real, nuanced performance. In fact, Baruchel’s one-note annoyance aside, casting is Goon‘s greatest pleasure. Even Alison Pill (Midnight in Paris), a talented actress who often sticks out like a sore thumb due to her young age and small stature — two words: Milk wig — fits the slutty love interest like a glove. (Wait, that didn’t sound like a compliment …)
Directed by Michael Dowse (Take Me Home Tonight), the underseen Goon isn’t a great movie, but it is a good one. That it isn’t a piece of crap as many would expect is perhaps cause for victory. Just don’t expect to laugh. —Rod Lott