Goon was a top box office success from the moment it was released in 2012. It beat out American competitors from opening weekend and generally garnered positive reviews. Based on the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into Minor League Hockey by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith, it tells the story of what it was like in minor league hockey in Canada. The book was picked up by Jesse Shapira and David Gross and adapted for the screen by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, noted comedy performers in TV and film. Baruchel would also act in the film.
The plot of the movie followed sweethearted Doug played by Seann William Scott (American Pie) being enlisted as an “enforcer” to the local hockey team after protecting his gay, loudmouthed brother Pat (Jay Baruchel). As a goon, Doug is there to protect Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin, C.R.AZ.Y), a big league prospect demoted to the minors due to a hit sustained from Ross the Boss Rhea played by Liev Schrieber (Spotlight).
The first movie culminated in Doug earning the respect of Laflamme and his teammates and the affection Eva played by Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs The World). It also had him knock out Rhea in the moment everyone was waiting for.
Despite the sheer violence and vulgarity of the film, it succeeded with great writing and acting and felt authentic in its treatment of the subject. Filmed in Portage la Prairie, Brandon and Winnipeg had a passion within it that resonated throughout every scene. Naturally, it was a hit in Canada. Unnaturally, it warranted a sequel. It is rather unheard of for a English language movie to be successful and appear to be franchise material.
The premise of Goon: Last of the Enforcers is that Doug (Scott) has retired early as the result of injury at the hands of another enforcer Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell). Now married to Eva (Pill) who is pregnant with their first child, he sells insurance which is a tough adjustment. It is especially hard when the man who knocked you out of the game becomes captain of your team. Motivated to make a comeback, he seeks out Ross the Boss (Liev Schreiber) to give him tips to re-join his beloved Highlanders as a goon.
Jay Baruchel returns as screenwriter with Jess Chabot (Just for Laughs: All Access). He also is back as brother Pat to our hero Doug. However, for the first time Baruchel takes up the role as director. It is an interesting choice because action is as important as the comedy in Goon. A lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan, Baruchel wanted to achieve a certain authenticity in everything about the story and how it looked and felt. Many former NHL players appear in the movie lending it weight in the realism look.
Many of the actors who appeared in the first movie reprise their roles. Foul mouthed coach Ronnie Hortense (Kim Coates), star player LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin) and Eugene Levy as dad Dr. Glatt. Elisha Cuthbert is new. She join as Mary, sister to Eva (Alison Pill). Interestingly, Cuthbert and Baruchel used to co-star in the the program Popular Mechanics for Kids many years ago.
So how does this embarrassment of riches in comedic and hockey talent stand up? Well, it is rude, crude, super violent but like the first movie tender in all the right spots, down right sweethearted, Baruchel as director shows a flair for action that captures the speed and drama of hockey. As writer, he is able to create believable and enjoyable characters. This isn’t a movie that only Canadians will like but it surely will be one that we’ll get more than others in terms of inside jokes, music and hockey, hockey, hockey.
Ultimately, the story leads to the fight between the enforcers on the ice. The journey to get there is a laugh out loud fun.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations