A funny, ballsy, and bloody Canadian hockey movie. About time.
Saturday, September 10, 3 p.m.
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard Street East)
Tuesday, September 13
AMC 7 (10 Dundas Street East)
Scripted by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, Dowse’s sharp, swiftly paced Goon is the best hockey film since Slap Shot. An ode to the split lips and bloody knuckles of the on-ice brawler, Goon casts Seann William Scott as Doug “The Thug” Glatt, a small-town Massachusetts bouncer who finds his calling after dummying a local hockey player. Signed by the team’s coach and encouraged by his bouncy, foul-mouthed pal (Baruchel), Doug blasts up the minor hockey ladder, despite minimal skating skills. He winds up in Halifax where, tasked with protecting a superstar forward (Marc-André Grondin) with a sweet tooth for blondes and booger sugar. Doug’s gift at dishing out (and receiving) violence also sets him up against soon-to-be-retired league tough guy Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber, pulling off an outstanding East Coast accent).
Baruchel, Goldberg, and Dowse understand hockey violence, its role in firing up the team, and the key role enforcers play in securing the safety of their less burly, ostensibly more talented, teammates. This knowledge invests Goon with its sense of gritty, visceral realism, even though it works primarily as straight-ahead sports comedy. Scott perfects the dopey-sweet shtick he already nailed in Role Models, further shedding the douchey dickhead Stiffler label that’s hung over him for years. Swiftly cut by editor Reg Harkema, really, really funny, and only moderately derailed by a hammy romantic subplot, Goon further asserts Dowse’s place as the first star of Canadian film comedy. Let’s stich a big “C” on his jersey while we’re at it.