I Think We Both Have A Light In Our Stomachs: Goon (2012)

Another one of the films that technically borders on the line between being counted as a 2011 or 2012 release, this sports comedy falls in the later by a matter of seven days, and is yet another one of the films  that seems to be receiving a lot of hype as 2012 wraps up, particularly since this movie seems to have come and gone with little or no noise whatsoever.  I will admit that much of my ignoring of this film exists solely because it involved Sean-Williams Scott, who I had dismissed as one of the many members of the American Pie series.  However, my recent, somewhat favorable review, of the film had me reconsidering what value the typecast Scott might have, particularly in such a unique film.  Furthemore, the brief reviews and mentions I glanced at before watching this comedy, seemed to really emphasize how out of the norm Scott's performance proved to be, not to mention some rather excellent offerings from Liev Schreiber and Eugene Levy as well.  I could attempt to tell you that this is a film about hockey, and that it is a well-written, all be it incredibly raunchy comedy, however, I am quite concerned that explaining that will do little to cause you to want to see the film.  If we are being honest, few sports comedies manage to transcend their focused audience, and when they do it is because they really are not sports comedies at heart, take Talladega Nights for example.  Goon contests what narratives and images can occupy a sports comedy and manages to do so with a zeal and vigor so perfected that I often thought I was watching Major League.  Now I will admit, certain of the dismissive condemnation I may receive from some, that I have never seen Slap Shot, which could well affect my immediate liking of this work, however, should I get around to watching that I will keep Goon in mind whilst creating a review.  At the moment, Goon stands to be a considerably enjoyable movie, with just enough of a heart beat not to be middle of the road, hell if I were to ever create a top ten sports comedies list there is a pretty good chance that it could sneak onto the list.  Goon is no Caddyshack, but its hard hitting style should not be overlooked.

Goon centers primarily on the experiences of Doug Glatt (Sean-Williams Scott) a super-kind, if not a bit brain damaged, bar bouncer whose life seems headed nowhere fast, much to the condemnation and dissaproval of his adoptive Jewish parents Dr. Glatt (Eugene Levy) and his wife Mrs. Glatt (Ellen David).  If it were not for the endearing support and admiration of his foul mouthed friend Pat (Jay Baruchel) it would seem that Doug would have little of value to push him through his meaningless days, however, during a minor league hockey game, Doug attacks a player who comes into the audience hurling homophobic slurs, as he sees them as a direct insult to his gay brother.  This trouncing of a brutish hockey player causes him to catch the eye of a minor team that hires him to be their goon, eventually leading to his being moved up one division higher to protect a hyper-paranoid wunderkind named Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) who has been off his game since receiving a concussion from league bully Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber).  At first, Doug's concern for friendliness and  simple-mindedness seem destined for failure, yet after a few moments of dumb luck and the eventual support of an intimate partnership with a newly found girlfriend named Eva (Alison Pill) things finally come together for Doug.  This journey still takes time, however, especially since Xavier is initially jealous of his loss of respect on the team, however, once he realizes that Doug only seeks to assure the larger teams success he and the team come around to Doug's place as a goon, as well as a hockey player.  Of course, the emergence of Doug as a new superstar is not complete until he faces of with Ross Rhea, which serves as the films climax, an intense fight, not of violence means, all though it is quite bloody, but one that passes the metaphorical torch from the old school bruiser to the young goon.  It is done out of respect, so much so that Ross demands that the referees stay out of the way.  Doug eventually lands a devastating blow to Ross, despite taking heavy damage himself and we are shown his team scoring the necessary goals to make it to the playoffs.

Sports movies often lack considerable critical depth beyond promoting an underdog story of sorts and this fact is extended exponentially when considering sports comedies, which possess heavy amounts of satire, yet Goon is so unusual in the ways with which it deals with Doug's evolution and growing up that it is a very backhanded bildungsroman of sorts, in so much as it is as much about the underdog proving himself, as it is about Doug creating his self-identity and learning to navigate the world around him.  In one of his conversations with Pat, a disparaged Doug admits to desiring to find the one thing that makes his life worth anything, which he accomplishes via being a bruiser for a semi-professional hockey team.  His identity is not solely formed by this experience alone though, much of his evolution occurs with his initially problematic relationship with Eva, who must break-up with her boyfriend to be with her new found love, of course the veritable nice guy, Doug overs his cheeks to Eva's ex who bludgeons him in frustration.  In this moment, Doug learns when to accept punishment, something he had been giving out up until this point.   Also, one could agree that travel is a very large part of formulating one's experiences and is quite often present in the traditional bildungsroman and it is certainly something that Doug engages in during the narrative, both moving between borders of national creation as well as spaces in which he is welcome and unwelcome, at times by his own accord, while at others as a result of external forces.  Combining these things together, one cannot ignore the evolution Doug goes through within this rather fast-paced film and what could seem like ninety minutes of punches and curse words actually is a well thought out study of a person's coming of age story, even if it is a bit late in the game.

Key Scene:  The final fight scene between Doug and Ross is legitimately on a cinematic level equal to that of Raging Bull.

Yet another offering via Netflix you should do yourself a favor at watch this soon, perhaps with some friends as a few cold Canadian beers.

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