Everyone loves an underdog. The idea of a loser rising to the top and beating all odds is something that a lot of people can relate to. We root for these characters because we love them, and we know that they deserve nothing but the best. Sports films are especially good at this, and last year’s Warrior AKA, the MMA movie that had everyone crying, is a prime example of the sports genre at its finest.
I’ll be honest I’m not too keen on the entire sports genre. Frankly it’s because I’m not a sports fan in general and I don’t even know what the hell is happening most of the time. But there are certain sports films that are just great. How do you know they’re great? Because you love it just the same, even if you aren’t familiar with the sport portrayed.
Seann William Scott has made almost an entire career out of being an ass. From the American Pie series to pretty much everything else he’s done, he’s had the honor of being that one douchebag that we hate to love and love to hate. Still, when taking a deeper looking into Scott’s filmography, there’s some solid evidence that he’s actually a good actor.
In particular, films like The Promotion and Southland Tales have given him the opportunity to do some much-needed flexing with his acting muscle. But I don’t think he’s had a role quite as contrasted as the role he plays in Goon. Scott plays Doug Glatt, a dim-witted but good-hearted bouncer at a local bar. Making minimum wage, Doug spends most of his days kicking out drunks, brawlers, and underage kids who try to sneak in.
After going to a hockey game with his best friend, the filthy mouthed Ryan (Jay Baruchel), and getting into a physical altercation with a player of the away team, Doug is drafted into the local hockey team as the goon. In hockey world, the goon is basically the guy who goes onto the ice and beats the crap out of anything standing in his way. The team, known as the Assassins, is one of the worst in the league. After Glatt shows that he has true talent as a goon, he gets moved up to the Halifax Highlanders, home to Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin).
After an encounter with notorious hockey player Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schrieber) three years prior that resulted in a major concussion as well as a 20 game suspension for Rhea, Laflamme has been unable to recover from the incident due to a fear of being hit again. Now it’s up to Glatt to get Laflamme out of the minor leagues, and back on top where he belongs. Rhea, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to fight Doug Glatt. And win.
Goon is an interesting and successful blend of raunchy comedy and inspiring sports drama. With a script co-written by Jay Baruchel, an avid hockey fan, and Evan Goldberg, a screenwriter known for his ability to aptly mash together comedy and drama (see: Superbad). Together, the two craft an original and surprisingly heartwarming story of an underdog rising to the top. Seann William Scott plays the role to perfection, stepping out of his comfort zone for a role that requires an emotional vulnerability that he’s not used to.
Michael Dowse serves as director and includes some breathtaking on ice shots of Doug’s games, fights, as well as his fellow teammates. The thing that separates Goon from the rest of the other sports movies that have come out recently isn’t just its endlessly quotable script, pitch-perfect performances, or visionary camerawork. It rises above the rest because, like its protagonist, it’s an unexpected bending of genres because no matter how much the film makes us laugh, it also puts us in a story that had me at the edge of my seat. The subtleties of factual accuracy enhance the story, especially considering it’s based off a true story.
Goon is a sports film that despite the often crude humor that encompasses most of its running time, is a treat for the entire family to enjoy. It has the makings of a comedy blockbuster, with a good amount of action, comedy, inspiration, drama, and romance to keep the story interesting at all times. It’s a film that demands your attention, and transcends most of the sports cliches that it comes into contact with. As far as sports movies go, it’s this year’s Warrior, but funnier.