Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Goon.”
The Movie: “Goon”
Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill
Director: Michael Dowse
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82 percent
Froemming: It’s July and that means it is Sports Month here at the JOE-DOWN! A month where I get to infuriate Brown with my shocking lack of knowledge of any sport while at the same time making him watch garbage like “Bring It On.”
And to kick this off, I took a recommendation from a JOE-DOWN goon in his own right, our buddy Kyle who once suggested we review “Fuller House” and I have hated ever since.
So I went with “Goon,” a movie that answers two questions I never knew I had: What would it be like to see Seann William Scott play a dead-eyed simpleton and what would Liev Schreiber look like if he cosplayed as Kenny Powers from “Eastbound and Down?”
Brown, why don’t you share your thoughts while I contemplate how Doug in this movie isn’t dead from concussions?
Brown: How anyone from this movie isn’t dead from concussions is beyond me. Or, after watching the movie, how did no one die of alcoholism?
Speaking of our jerkass friend Kyle, he’s told me for years to watch this movie and yet, I never got around to it. Mostly because it would escape my mind or I would have to watch “Fuller House” thanks to him.
So going into “Goon,” I was expecting something similar to “Slap Shot,” but for contemporary audiences. And that’s pretty much what we got, except our lead wasn’t Paul Newman’s Reggie Dunlop. Instead, it was Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt, who is essentially the shared DNA of Forrest Gump’s lovable charm and Happy Gilmore’s unbridled rage.
Does that make this a good movie? Ehhh… We’ll get into it.
So I’m gonna go sharpen my skates so I can try to stab someone with them. While I’m busy with that, you get us started, Froemming.
Froemming: We meet our hero, Doug Glatt, working as a bouncer at a Massachusetts watering hole. Where in Massachusetts? Not sure, it is never really said, but based on how much I hated Jay Baruchel’s character in this, I’m going to say Boston.
We see the bar owner pretty much uses Doug as a weapon as he just pummels people with his fists, be it obnoxious patrons to random folks outside the bar.
But we see he has an interest in hockey. He watches it at the bar he works at and he and his buddy, Pat (Baruchel) watch videos of games.
Pat needs to die in a fire. Everytime he was onscreen, I wanted to turn my TV off. I have zero patience in my old age for D-bags like that.
Brown: Yeah, I’m right there with you. I typically enjoy Jay Baruchel, like in “This is the End.” But good lord, this character is SO abrasive. In the second act, I was enjoying the movie, up until he showed back up and started grabbing his crotch. Pat is basically what old Fox News viewers view millenials as, to the point that his “career” is that of a YouTuber. This is why Trump won, folks.
Back to the movie, we see Doug watching hockey during downtime at the bar, namely hockey fights. And this confused me because A. minor-league hockey gets TV time in Boston? And B. We find out later that Doug doesn’t even know how to skate! I get being a hockey fan and not knowing how to skate. That’s me. However, I don’t have illusions about being a hockey player.
Imagine your life’s dream is to be a trucker. But, you never got a driver’s license. Dream. Over.
Froemming: What about if you are a trucker who dreams of being a professional arm wrestler?
You are right. Knowing how to skate is pretty important.
So Doug and Pat are at a hockey game, where Pat mocks a player who gets so angry he storms the stands, which I am shocked doesn’t happen more often in professional sports. Those big paychecks probably cure lashing out at idiot fans.
Well, Doug knocks the snot out of this player, which nabs him a chance to tryout for an amature team. Because the script demanded so!
Brown: I know it has happened before. For hockey, here’s video of Tie Domi having a fan meet the end of his fists.
As far as other sports, Google “Malice at the Palace” and have fun.
I’ll say this: At least Doug has a good heart. The reason he gets involved with this fight because the player casually throws around gay slurs, which offends our oafish protagonist because he has a gay brother.
So yeah, Doug gets his tryout and again, THE DUDE CANNOT SKATE! That should be the end of it there. However, when he punches one of his new teammates, and eventually ALL of his teammates, that gets him the job as the team’s enforcer.
There is a purpose to a hockey enforcer (to help protect the skill players when there’s chippy play) but this movie comes out at a weird, weird time. For a movie that came out in 2011, hockey enforcers were on the endangered list because the NHL has become filled with skill players and fighting has been further discouraged.
Froemming: Thanks a lot, Obama.
Brown: … Right.
It’s more for things like Marty McSorley committing assault.
It’s cool to see a guy like Doug, who can cause a helmet to explode with a headbutt like he’s a Japanese pro wrestler. But really, his career would have never gone beyond beer league.
Froemming: Well, we get a quick montage of Doug learning to skate and fighting. Because we need to get to the point of this move: Doug playing in the minors.
It so happens his coach has a brother who coaches in Halifax (played by Kim Coates, so I just saw him as his character from “Sons of Anarchy”) who needs an enforcer.
See, the Halifax Highlanders (HEEERRE WEEE ARRREE, BOORRRN TO BEE KIINNNGSS…wait, wrong Highlander) need someone to watch the back of their star player, who was injured badly by Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Schreiber), a legendary goon who made a career out of beating the snot out of everyone in his path.
Can I just say, no matter the garbage thing he is in, Liev Schreiber always does an excellent job. Even in the uneven “Wolverine: Origins,” he did a stellar job as Sabertooth.
The Highlanders star player, Xavier Laflamme — a name so French he must have been born with a white flag clenched in his tiny Donald Trump-sized fist — has hit a low point, fearing he will be injured at any moment on the ice while ignoring the injury he is causing to his nose with all that cocaine he is shoveling up it.
So now they have Doug, who has to live with this trainwreck of a French Canadian.
Brown: Schreiber was enjoyable in this role. And I enjoy most folks with the Hulk Hogan handlebar mustache.
Froemming: I agree, with the exception of racist, journalism killing Hulk Hogan himself.
Brown: Like his testimony in the Gawker trial, was that the character Hulk Hogan? Or was it Terry Bollea, the man himself? You know what, I’ll stop there.
To bring newbies up to speed: Because of Rhea’s McSorley-like, near-decapitation of a player, he is suspended 20 games and is actually sent to his first team in St. John’s on what is pretty much his retirement tour.
The best way I can describe Laflamme in this movie is he is Dewey Cox in his renegade phase, snorting and/or humping everything within his grasp. And, he still thinks he’s a superstar instead of the washout he actually is, making him a less than ideal teammate to a group that includes a divorcee, a pair of bullying Russian twins and a sharp-tongued goalie with his mom painted on his mask, just to name a few.
Meanwhile, Doug is there to be the ideal teammate, never putting himself above the jersey. So, he’s every high school coach’s dream.
Froemming: Doug shows his stuff his first game, knocking some poor bastard out after he attacked one of the Highlanders. Then they go to the bar to celebrate or whatever (they didn’t win), where some on the team want to see Doug’s dork.
This is why I never got into sports.
Because this is a movie, we need a love interest. Enter Eva, an alcoholic townie who sleeps around on her boyfriend with hockey players. We are introduced to her as she walks into a bar screaming at her phone.
Brown: Things don’t seem like they went well for Kim Pine after being in Sex Bob-Omb with Scott Pilgrim, seeing that she’s now a hockey groupie who constantly reminds everyone how terrible a girlfriend she is. Also, we need to review “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” someday, because I love it, and you will hate it.
Froemming: She is to Doug what Jenny was to Forrest Gump, a terrible person who abuses a simpleton’s crush on them for dumb reasons.
Brown: At least Eva’s mental abuse doesn’t last through every notable thing that happened in the ‘60s and ‘70s like Jenny.
OK, it’s time to address my favorite thing in this movie: Eugene Levy’s Jewish guilt.
At the start of the movie, we see the Glatt family at a synagogue, and Doug’s dad is played by Eugene Levy. And Levy’s character is… every character he’s ever played. But he’s so good at being the disapproving father because Doug thinks with his fists instead of his brain and isn’t continuing the family line of doctors.
Also, Eugene Levy’s character hates Pat as much as we do, Froemming.
Froemming: So we get an “American Pie” reunion with Levy and Scott here, which reminds me I should make us sit through that (REDACTED) sandwich of a film for a JOE-DOWN.
Levy is good at what he does, though my favorite role of his was Mitch Cohen as the Syd Barrett of folk music in “A Mighty Wind.”
And frankly, Doug’s dad has to be insane to think Doug could be a doctor. His head is so thick it literally crushes hockey helmets.
Brown: I’m 100 percent certain that Doug suffers from Homer Simpson Syndrome, where he can be wailed on with a medical 2×4 all day by Dr. Hibbert.
Froemming: So Doug has a crush on Eva and it is weird because he just gawks at her and says she is pretty like he is Lenny from “Of Mice and Men,” and we all know how that ended.
And the team is getting better. With Doug beating the bejesus out of anyone the coach points at, his reputation as the next big enforcer is starting to take off. Even Rhea is taking notice of the next generation of him.
And the Highlanders break their month-long losing streak with their newfound confidence knowing Doug will use his strength to clobber anyone who tries to mess with them.
See kids, violence does solve problems!
Brown: It also causes problems, because Laflamme hates not being the center of attention. Because of Doug’s hard work, he gets put on the power play instead of Laflamme. Laflamme gets his alternate captain “A” taken away in favor of Doug. The chants are for “Doug the Thug.”
I mean, I get his anger because Doug literally can’t skate, let alone be anything other than an enforcer. But, he’s a primadonna so I don’t feel bad for him.
And no matter how (REDACTED) Laflamme is to Doug, the dude is there to protect him, and that causes a major problem for the Highlanders when they’re within striking distance for the final playoff spot.
Froemming: Well, we skimmed over the fact Doug makes a goal with his butt, but we need to move ahead.
There are four games left. Laflamme is being a real jerk to Doug, but not in the comical way Lt. Dan did in “Forrest Gump,” but in a snooty French Canadian way. And during a game in Quebec, an opposing player sneaks around Doug and hurts Laflamme, which made me laugh. Seeing he let down this coke addict friend of his, Doug storms to the penalty box and just wails on the guy and blood flies everywhere.
The Highlanders lose, Laflamme is out of commission and Doug is suspended one game and has to sit in the area of the bus where everyone pees in a hole.
Again, this is why I never got into sports.
Brown: With Laflamme concussed, Doug swears his loyalty to Laflamme, seeing that he feels guilty for the star getting run down.
The game that Doug misses is against St. John’s and his contemporary, Rhea. While wandering the streets before the game, Doug sees Rhea at a cafe and the two have a mutual respect chat. You know, like “Heat,” but with handlebar mustaches and more swearing. And while Rhea respects Doug for being the last of a dying breed of enforcers, he tells the young guy that he’ll “lay [him] the (REDACTED) out” if they play each other before the end of his career.
Personally, I really like this interaction because as a sports person, those quirky relics of sports past, like knuckleballers or stand-up goalies, fascinate me. Grizzled enforcers are in that same vein. I wish there could have been more moments like this between Doug and Rhea because it does set up for a fun climax. But we’ll get there shortly.
First, Doug has to turn his own face into hamburger!
Froemming: I am not squeamish when it comes to blood and whatnot, but this did make me cringe a little.
It is the second to last game, and Laflamme and Doug are not exactly on good terms. Laflamme makes a goal, but snubs our hero. But at the very end, with the goalie out, Doug does the disgusting: Blocks a puck with his (REDACTED) face.
Teeth and blood fly and the two teams are scrambling. The opposing team is wailing on Doug with their sticks and whatnot, but he saved the day.
And he gets some stitches and is OK. He should be laid out in a hospital for a month after that.
Brown: Oh, anything with loose teeth shake me to my core. I can’t watch the episode of “Always Sunny” where Charlie just pops his teeth out like Tic-Tacs. Even typing that makes me queasy.
It’s bad enough that a puck hits him in the face, but he’s also taking sticks to the face as the other team tries franticly to score the game-tying goal. And, he gets his ankle stepped on with a skate. Yikes.
Then, it’s exacerbated when, out of guilt for Eva picking him, Doug goes and gets a beating from Eva’s ex-boyfriend.
Froemming: We skipped over it, but I want to bring up my favorite joke: Eva is crying and Doug asks her if she just watched “Rudy.” I don’t know why, but that made me laugh the most in this movie.
Brown: My favorite joke was early on, when everyone talks about how much of a national disgrace the singer was performing the Canadian anthem. Also, after taking the puck to the face, Doug proclaims loudly in a bar that “I’m high on painkillers!”
So Doug looks like Kanye West right before he wrote “Through the Wire,” but he’s in uniform for the final regular-season game as a playoff spot is on the line against St. John’s. And Rhea in what could be his final game.
Take it away, Bane.
Froemming: Yeah this is an important game, it decides who gets the playoff spot. But face it, everyone is watching to see Rhea and Doug smash the crap out of one another.
It is the second period, and the Highlanders are down 2-0. The answer is obvious: Put the enforcers in and watch them fight, because sure.
And Rhea plays around with Doug. Challenges him to a fight, but only Doug throws the gloves off, hence he’s the one who goes into the penalty box.
Brown: I honestly loved that. Sure, Rhea’s a long-time badass, but he’s also a wily veteran that didn’t play for decades just because he can fight. Showing that craftiness was a damn good choice.
Froemming: But then we finally get it, the fight between two meatheads on ice.
It’s a solid fight scene, though when Doug’s ankle breaks I was pretty grossed out. Just, gross.
Brown: Yeah, I don’t do well with leg breaks, either. But yeah, it’s a rather epic donnybrook. I’ll still say it’s the second best hockey fight in JOE-DOWN viewing history behind Racki/Youngblood.
By the end, Doug’s ankle is shattered, but he’s somehow the winner. Yeah, Rhea is unconscious, but only because the couple times Doug went down he refused to stop the fight. It got to the point where I thought of the movie “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” where Wimp Lo’s all “I’m bleeding, making me the victor.”
But, the fight was the lift the Highlanders needed as Laflamme scores a hat trick to secure the victory and the final playoff spot.
All the while, Doug’s just in the locker room with a shattered ankle and dried blood on his face, kissing his girlfriend. Is … is no one going to treat a dude with a SHATTERED ANKLE?! That doesn’t seem like the kind of injury you work on when you get around to it…
Froemming: He needs a doctor for both his ankle and to look into the possibility he has mouth herpes from kissing Eva.
Brown, why don’t we lace up and skate down to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Sure. It was fun when Jay Baruchel was not on screen. When he was, I was filled with the rage of a million fiery suns. Otherwise, check it out.
Brown: I’d say it’s worth a view. I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, and it’s certainly not “Slap Shot,” which I unfairly compared it to in my head. But it’s got some decent humor and Doug is a real easy character to get behind. It’s a quality “I’m bored, let’s throw on Netflix” watch.