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Gonzales Weekly Citizen - Gonzales, LA
  • Movie review: 'Goon' throws punches, but not many connect

  • The lewd, grotesquely violent hockey comedy “Goon” -- inspired by Hanson police officer Doug Smith's memoir -- crosses the blue line so often you’re compelled to pin it against the boards and administer a quick knee to the groin.

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  • The lewd, grotesquely violent hockey comedy “Goon” crosses the blue line so often you’re compelled to pin it against the boards and administer a quick knee to the groin.
    Where’s Chris Nilan when you need him? The irony is that “Goon,” in an odd way, is meant to honor guys like the Boston-bred Nilan, whose sole purpose was to drop his stick and raise his arms to pummel an opponent whenever the rival team got too physical.
    Known as “enforcers,” these boxers on skates can electrify a crowd and bloody an adversary with one flick of the fist. “Goon” desperately tries doing the same, wildly flailing punches at our funny bones, but rarely connecting.
    The only time it comes close to drawing blood is with its backhanded swipes at romance via our resident goon – Seann William Scott’s lovable dope, Doug Glatt – and Alison Pill’s self-proclaimed hockey “slut,” Eva.
    Both pack the charm and charisma the rest of this “Slap Shot” wannabe sorely lacks.
    When they are together, “Goon” bursts to life; when they’re not, it’s crass and offensive, wearing its ignorance and stupidity all too proudly on its jersey sleeve.
    Gays take the hardest beating with writers Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”) and Jay Baruchel repeatedly confusing homophobia for humor.
    They’re also not above resorting to the occasional urine joke or sexually assaulting a goalie mask.
    It’s infuriating at times. But if anyone has the right to be ticked off, it’s Hanson police officer Doug Smith, whose memoir – written with Hanover’s Adam Fratassio – about his life as a rink enforcer, “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into a Minor Hockey League,” was the inspiration for a movie that portrays his alter ego, Doug Glatt, as a guy who thinks only with his fists and groin.
    As for the film’s insights about life with a minor league hockey team, they amount to a slapdash rehash of “Slap Shot,” which, unlike “Goon,” possessed a sharp and intelligent protagonist in Paul Newman’s huckstering Reggie Dunlap.
    It was the fun of watching Newman deal with the imbeciles on his team that produced the biggest laughs.
    In “Goon,” it’s just the opposite, and it’s seldom funny.
    It makes for one colossal missed opportunity, because the idea of a Beantown bar bouncer like Doug Glatt suddenly finding himself a celebrated hockey star (not unlike Mark Wahlberg in “Invincible”) is one rife for humor and heart.
    Page 2 of 2 - But Goldberg and Baruchel (who also co-stars as Doug’s obnoxious, hockey-obsessed BFF), along with director Michael Dowse (“Take Me Home Tonight”), strive for nothing but clichés in portraying icemen as hard-drinking, narrow-minded lummoxes.
    You long to see one – just one – guy as erudite as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but as close as we come is Liev Schreiber’s hunky and somewhat philosophical over-the-hill goon, Ross Rhea.
    Still, along with the two leads, Ross is among the few characters that register.
    It’s sad to see his fine turn wasted; same for Scott, who knows how to play dumb smart.
    You hate Doug’s idiocy, but Scott always makes him so likable, you can’t help rooting for him, especially in his scenes opposite the exquisitely adorable Pill.
    You end up wishing the film were all about them, instead of a collection of poorly sketched Neanderthals who can’t shoot straight.
    They, not our brains, should have been put on ice.
    GOON (R for violence, language and sexual situations.) Cast includes Seann William Scott, Alison Pill and Lieve Schreiber. Directed by Michael Dowse. 1.5 stars out of 4.
     
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