Film Review – Goon (2011)

I’ve had this thing sitting in my queue for a while now. I had heard nothing but good things about it and I kept meaning to hit play but kept getting distracted by other things. I don’t often have enough time to sit down and watch a movie the whole way through anymore. It’s why I’m more likely to watch an episode of a show than anything else. But the last few days I’ve been under the weather and have taken the time to actually sit down and watch some things I might otherwise have not had the time for. This was one of those movies.

Seann William Scott plays the lead character, a man of less than average intelligence whose only real talent lies in doling out punishment with his fists. He works security in a small bar and is generally looked at as a disappointment to his doctor father. On one hand it is hard to relate to this character because of his mental shortcomings. He’s not functionally disabled but for the most part he’s socially awkward to the point where some scenes of his interactions with other people are hard to watch. On the other hand, everyone can connect on some level because we are driven to live up to the expectations of our parents and we all know what it feels like to let them down just a little bit. Sean William Scott, an actor who doesn’t really pop up in many of the movies I watch because he tends to cater to a different demographic, really nails the part. There is none of the man who slightly annoyed me in films like Cop Out. Instead we get a fully realized character who hits every note he needs to. Scott plays Doug Glatt with the pathos of a man who understands his own shortcomings and yet remains positive. This is a fully realized character.

The story is one that builds from the outset toward a logical conclusion. We know exactly where the film is going to end. What we don’t know is how the film will handle that ending or what course it will take to get there. As someone who doesn’t know much about hockey (full disclosure, “much” is “nothing” in this case. I watch sometimes but it confounds me) the actual sport aspect of the film seemed equal parts like filler material and important buildup. The film tells us early on that Glatt will face off against his elder nemesis, played wonderfully by Liev Schrieber. The film then goes on to give us an extended look at Glatt learning his place in the team, which is simply that of a bruiser and not a true hockey player. But the film waffles on this by having Glatt accept this fact while showing us that it isn’t technically true, which makes the film somewhat frustrating. Glatt gets a character arc but it rings hollow in execution.

The film is, overall at least, very well made and entertaining. I think it is one of the better sports themed films I’ve seen in a long time. That having been said, it does have some issues with what sort of message it wants to present and I have to wonder if it doesn’t want to present a message at all. If that’s the case, then it is a shame because all the other pieces come together wonderfully and with a little more definition it could be one of those classic sports films that find their way into perennial circulation but I’m not so sure this one will have that fate. I think it is destined to be something of a cult film for hockey fans but it won’t stick around in the mainstream consciousness too long after it stops being available in the Redbox stands.


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