UK audiences might not give a flying puck about ice hockey, but there are enough decent gags and winning performances to ensure that this tale of being battered in the rink is a worthwhile watch.
For a comedy that revolves around frequent bouts of blood-splattered violence, Goon is surprisingly good-natured. The story charts the ascent of a nice but dim chap called Doug (Seann William Scott), who has a heart of gold but fists of fury. He's hired as an 'enforcer' for an ice hockey team after impressing their coach with his punching skills by beating up somebody who homophobically abused his brother. What a guy!
Barely able to stay on his feet on the ice, Doug is tasked with the mission of protecting the team's star player Laflamme (Marc-André Grondin) from receiving another brutal bashing. However, Doug's success at his role puts him on a collision course with the legendary (and soon to be retired) enforcer Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) - and also causes envy from his own (largely underdeveloped) teammates. There will be blood...
As 'Doug The Thug', Seann William Scott does a sterling job by ensuring that he doesn't come across as some Luddite thicko caricature. He instils Doug with a disarming and sincere spiritual core that allows us to empathise with him on an emotional level, particularly while pursuing his sl*ttish love interest Eva (In Treatment Season Two's Allison Pill). His heartfelt courting is a world away from the brash ratcatching methods deployed by a certain Steve Stifler.
Equipped with a handlebar moustache reminiscent of Australian cricketer David Boon, Liev Schreiber excels in a very physical and dour role that we're not accustomed to seeing him playing. His presence in the film is sporadic at best, but he certainly bolsters both the entertainment and dramatic impact of any scene that he is in. The build up to the inevitable confrontation between Rhea and Doug does come across as rather laboured at times though.
Most definitely not playing against type is Eugene Levy, who turns up in a supporting role as
These japes, alongside a plethora of self-consciously crude dialogue and raucous shenanigans, largely work because of the sheer conviction of the cast and crew and a consistent tone. Inspired moments of hilarity are in short supply, but a reasonable amount of hearty chuckles and an engaging lead performance from Scott manages to keep Goon skating on thick enough ice.