Grant V. Ziegler
The old saying goes, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” Those who are still in this mindset are ignorant to the actual reality of professional ice hockey. However, the cinema is going old school and bringing back Donnybrooks and all-out fisticuffs in Goon.
Seann William Scott plays Doug “the Thug” Glatt, a bouncer turned hockey enforcer. Glatt attended an adult league hockey game as a spectator, but after destroying the face of a player who left the penalty box to attack some of the fans, Glatt was invited to try out for the team.
Glatt can’t shoot or skate, but he can definitely throw a punch Mohammed Ali would be proud of. His lack of skill is further balanced by his heart and his team-first philosophy. Glatt literally punches his way out of the low-talent league he’s in and lands himself a spot on the Halifax Highlanders, a minor league team in need of a brute who will protect its star player Xavier Laflamme. Glatt single-fistedly tries to turn the team’s losing streak into a run to the playoffs.
Goon is a real punch in the face – metaphorically and literally. It’s ridiculous, sure, but in all the right ways. There’s way too much fighting, too much blood and an abundant amount of sport movie clichés. All-in-all, it’s just fun to watch. Combine the original hockey masterpiece Slapshot and fuse it with Jean Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport, and you get Goon.
The film tackles all the negative stereotypes attached to hockey, embellishes them completely and turns them all into an artful masterpiece. I watched the Dallas Stars take on the Minnesota Wild right before watching Goon and the differences were absurd. The real game I watched had no fights, no cheap shots and no team brawls; it was good, clean hockey. The only thing remotely accurate was that the referees sucked in the movie as much as they do in real hockey.
In Goon, teeth are a rarity and blood flows like water from a tap. It preys on the primitive “macho guy” appeal in films. Generally, I hate that sort of thing, but I’m too much of a hockey fan not to enjoy the silliness of Goon.
Granted, many who don’t follow hockey may not get the same enjoyment out of it as I did. I love hockey and I love hockey fights. But I promise you, the hockey fights alone will keep even the most anti-hockey fan sated.
The real sport of hockey is nothing like what you see in the movie. The sport has gotten a bad reputation from passive viewers who don’t understand the true skill the game requires. Many think it’s just a boxing match on ice. However, it is no more dangerous than throwing a 98 mph fastball at a batter’s head in baseball, and it’s certainly safer than cars going 200 mph as they do in NASCAR.
Goon does not showcase the high pace and grace the real hockey world encompasses. It’s as unrealistic as the Mighty Ducks movie franchise but will be as classic as the original Slapshot. This movie truly made me miss the days of immobile, bruising defensemen tearing up the faces of cheap-shot artists who deserved it. It’s a new NHL, but luckily, Goon allows me to reminisce about the good ol’ hockey days.
Goon gets a scrappy 4 out of 5 stars.