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Netflix Review: Goon
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Geeks of Doom Netflix Streaming Review

Netflix Review: GoonGoon
Netflix Streaming
DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Michael Dowse
Starring Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Jay Baruchel, Marc-Andre Grondin, Alison Pill, Kim Coates, David Lawrence, Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, Mike Smith
Magnet Films
Originally Released: September 10, 2011

Goon is one of those movies that will sneak up on you and surprise you. You see it for what seems like forever pop up in your suggestions on Netflix, and then when you finally decide to give it a shot; it hits you across the back of the head with its cleverness and its subtleties as well. Primarily a comedy film, Goon has some deep-rooted social commentary within, with a unique and noteworthy performance from Seann William Scott.

Directed by Michael Dowse, and roughly based on a true story that served as inspiration for the basis of the tale, Goon follows Doug Glatt (Scott) caught in a rut in his daily life. He feels despondent and isolated, and unconnected – the black sheep of the family, and only one buddy in the form of foul-mouthed hockey TV commentator Pat (Jay Baruchel). With a talent in fighting, Glatt goes through life as a bouncer for a local club, while passionately keeping track of his favorite sport, hockey.

In the course of attendance at a local hockey game, one of the players becomes aggressive with Doug and Pat, concluding in a major brawl between Doug and the player. This showcases his fighting skills and he proceeds to kick the hockey player’s ass in a sequence that rivals that of Hugh Jackman’s first scene as Wolverine in X-Men. No, really – seriously, it does.

The brawl gathers major attention, and a plan is hatched among hockey representatives to bring Glatt on board into the sport – despite his hilarious lack of skating skill. The plan is not without motive: Long time player from the St. John’s Shamrocks, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), has become known for his brutal fighting on the ice. The hockey coaches want Glatt to play in Canada for opposing team, the Halifax Highlanders, to protect their star player Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) from Rhea, and also to effectively become a nemesis for Rhea when the teams next face off.

What ensues is a character journey for Glatt, and although the face-off with Rhea becomes the focal point of the movie, the true nature of the story is of a man finding his place in the world, and developing an understanding of the importance of being a part of a team.

Other reviews of Goon have made the foreseeable comparisons to Slap Shot and Youngblood. While there’s no doubt that there are influences drawn from these films (as well as a sprinkle of the Mighty Ducks, and a water dropper dose of classic Rocky), but Goon is a objet d’art all on its own, instead zoning in solely on the conflict aspect of ice hockey. It’s bloody and it’s violent – sometimes gruesomely so; but that’s what makes the whole thing fun.

Netflix Review: Goon

Whilst watching the movie, I detected a feel of some Kevin Smith influence on the direction of the tale. There’s particular attention paid to dialogue scenes, building further depth to the characters. In fact, many aspects of Goon are reminiscent of some of Smith’s early work, yet writers Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, along with director Michael Dowse, have clearly put their own stamp on this creation, providing a new ambience in the mix.

At the beginning, Goon is mainly set in Massachusetts, and then later in Canada. Inevitably, there’s some Canadian appreciation in the movie as well, the hockey capital of the universe. While the central plot eventually moves to Nova Scotia and other areas in Canada, the earlier part of the movie comes complete with some cameo roles from the main actors from the brilliant comedy series Trailer Park Boys, which was a wonderful surprise – and some Rush thrown into the soundtrack for good measure. David Lawrence from FUBAR also makes an appearance. These moments make the movie worth watching alone in my mind!

Seann William Scott puts in a distinguished and unique performance in Goon. Breaking the stereotype of goofy roles he’s become quite typecast in, Scott takes on the performance providing a straightforward person with a deep appreciation of the unsophisticated and simple aspects of life. It’s a character building role, defying his previous on-screen appearances, with an impressive result, highlighting a journey of a simple man trying to find his place in the world.

Jay Baruchel has set forth his best foot in this movie. Serving both as the actor for the role of Pat, and also as co-writer of the film, he’s established himself as a creative contender to keep an eye on with future projects. While his role takes on a more conventional wisecrackin’ sidekick position, it’s his writing that rightfully gathers the best attention in Goon.

In the meantime, Schreiber also kicks much ass in this movie – providing a multi-dimensional antagonist that steps beyond the expectations one would have in a sports-based movie. He’s not a bad guy, nor anti-hero, he’s just Ross “The Boss” Rhea, exemplifying the role heart and soul; and developing a performance that breaks through the traditional “black and white” nemesis, and puts forth a spectrum-filled showing.

Actually, I’ve little negative to say about the acting in this movie. The entire experience is engrossing and magnetizing. Alison Pill blew me away in her role as Eva, who is our main character’s love interest – and again, battles against the expected stereotypes of the role, providing a delightful and unique perspective. Keep an eye on her in future movies. Kim Coates was also brilliant in the movie as the Highlanders coach, as was Marc-Andre Grondin as Xavier.

The comedy ingredient of Goon is highly enjoyable as well – most definitely guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and piss your pants with several LOLs. The context here is significant, for while some sequences tend to border marginally on the slapstick in places, for the most part the comedy is character-based; strengthening the deeper serious sides of the story as well.

Netflix Review: Goon

On the technical side, the cinematography is worth mentioning. Most of the drama scenes and comedy scenes are straight forward shooting with some good lighting, but there are some moments during the hockey matches that take on “skate cam” or “shoulder cam”, unexpectedly flinging you into the action as it happens. The effect is most powerful on the subconscious while viewing the film, as it increases the magnetic value of Goon as its compelling viewing to begin with.

Goon is a delight. It deserves more attention than it’s been receiving, for the performances in it are not only memorable, but I predict will become iconic. You need to see this one right now. Drop what you’re doing and go and watch it.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5


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