Goon review

Goon is, like its protagonist, gloriously stupid. It’s very much a case of Zoolander on ice. Ice hockey, that is – not that there’s much hockey involved. This is sport, American style: it comes with an extra helping of mindless intoxicating violence.

Doug (Scott) is stupid. Really stupid. And he knows it. It doesn’t bother him that he’s stupid, just that he doesn’t have a "thing". "You’ve got your thing," he says sadly to his gay, bitchy, filthy-mouthed, sport-show-presenter best friend. "What’s my thing?"

Redemption comes in the form of a homophobic verbal attack at a hockey game. Ignorant spectator unsatisfied by a player’s performance makes loud and aggressive insinuations about said player’s sexuality. (Possibly: "You fucking homo"). Doug gets involved: "Hey," he says, "my brother’s gay." (A lot of people close to him are gay. Stupid and gay: it’s an equal opportunities movie.) Fight ensues. Angry spectator gets a spectacular fist in the face. Hockey coach is watching. Doug enlisted to team. Doug is happy.

Like the Harry Potter Beaters with their bludgers, Goons are not there to play the sport: they’re there to rough people up. And if there’s one thing Doug can do, it’s punch. Problem is, he’s the proverbial Nice Guy – purveyor of violence but never viciousness. Protecting a team that increasingly shows itself to be a splintered and spiteful organisation causes him to have Some Issues.

This is screenwriting narrative at its barebones best: there’s the opponent, who must be vanquished; there’s the girl; there’s the opponent turned ally; there’s the Goal, the Obstacle, and the Showdown. Don’t let the formulaic predictability of it put you off – this film can certainly pull its punches. Whether it’s being brutally funny or just brutal, it provokes a visceral response – much like Doug’s right hook. And, like its star player, it’s got a heart of gold.

It also features an unparalleled amount of expletives. And some shagging. Fucks, fists and hockey sticks: what’s not to like?

Goon at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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