Goon – A Belated Review


The hype is over.

Finally, a viewing of Jay Baruchel’s film Goon took place. Following months of avoiding any critiques or commentary- fresh is what was required …

Any great movie, book or for that matter – television drama, requires one thing; a good story. Weak characters can walk around yet without a tale which twinkles the toes, weak characters become weaker and non – existent.

Goon is a good story which begs one question. Why didn’t Baruchel go further with it?

All the elements are present in the film. Characters with some depth and background. A plot which is realistic and an opportune time for the film’s message to hit ‘ a theatre near you’!

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Goon spins a yarn of a lost kid. A man – child who is going through life as a bouncer at a bar. A disappointment to his father and a conundrum to his Mom. With the help of his best buddy, he discovers his calling as an enforcer on a hockey team.

Purportedly, this film is based on a true story. It is hard to believe that any team would allow a tough guy with no skating ability onto the ice for a try – out.  (Artistic licence being the key words). What ensues is the man – child beats up half the team, impresses his coach enough to earn private skating lessons with him and ends up ‘ one step from the big leagues’. Hokey yes. Plausible? Scarily – yes!

From the get – go, Barachel conveys the message of the film through blood. The role of a goon in hockey is not pretty and as our lead character demonstrates; not the brightest bulb on the ceiling …

Through fights and bodychecks, Baruchel conveys a memo. What does the post-it say? Not sure …

It carries an anti – goon / tough guy message yet at the same moment, a pro – goon / tough guy message remains on par with the inaugural elbow. Being a goon is embarassing unless the reason is admirable and team oriented. Evolve into a selfish slug and the role should be banned.

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Realistically, these mixed messages are real life issues which hockey fans, players and owners wrestle with every season. For every goon who protects his mate – there skates another goon who gets suspended for doing a goonish thing. These two elements set up climatic foreshadowing and a reason to stay tuned and not run for a DVD of Wayne Gretzky 101.

Amid a subplot of a self – proclaimed ‘slut’ falling for the hero and a ‘Guy Lafleur’ whose confidence is shattered by goonish hockey – Baruchel tosses every type of hockey player imaginable into the fray. The film Slapshot, penned by Nancy Dowd in the mid seventies, ingrained memorable characters into the minds of hockey fans everywhere. Baruchel attempts to do the same with a modern day version.

Unfortunately for native Montrealer Baruchel, the shock value which Dowd had in her corner is no longer shocking to even a ten year old kid in the year 2012. The language which the players use are too over-the-top; even for a hockey player.

The two inane elements of the film are the announcer and the final scene

The play by play guy is a cross between Slapshot’s Jim Carr and a very bad comedian. Baruchel attempted to make him so absurd it would be funny. Instead, the man is so absurd – he should be shot with a puck to the head. Several times every hour.

In lieu of soiling the ending, an ommitance of the grand finale is honoured. If the ending is cool to a viewer then intelligence must be AWOL.

GOON is a microscope on the seedy slide of hockey. A labcoat must be worn to protect against all the blood and the pain a hockey purist must endure.

Baruchel did a fine job penning a movie about the role of the enforcer. Like the role of most ‘goons’, a clearcut idea of their job is a pebble on a frozen pond.

It is probably why Baruchel did not go any deeper … Trying to remove that pebble would cause a huge splash and Baruchel may have drowned in the process.

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