March 13, 2017

CINEMA | 'Goon: Last of the Enforcers' Hits Hard

Seann William Scott Liev Schreiber Jay Baruchel | Goon: Last of the Enforcers

The original Goon, a somewhat realistic feeling gem of a little Canadian sports flick co-written and produced by Montréal actor Jay Baruchel (and directed by Michael Dowse), was a violent, darkly sweet yet accessible take on the lowest levels of fighting in minor league hockey and the people gravitated towards that life. Its sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, this time directed by Baruchel is unfortunately a much more broadly comic and very bloody affair—on ice.

The still very amiable Seann William Scott returns as the affable Doug "the Thug" Glatt now happily married with a baby on the way alongside puck bunny turned cheerleader wife Eva (Alison Pill). Their surprisingly loving relationship anchors the otherwise bloody film.

Baruchel's direction is mostly able and workmanlike highlighting the performances of his actors while using fighting as a punchline to his jokey, overly heightened script co-written by Jesse Chabot. There's so much on ice action and repetitive antics that gags and elements start to get old quickly.

Most of the supporting cast return including former antagonist Liev Schreiber, who becomes the heart of the game/film this time around, as the now far-long washed up veteran minor league enforcer past his prime and looking for redemption. French-Canadian actor Marc-André Grondin remains a nice if underused sidekick to Scott's antics coming full circle from his bad boy star player arc.

Seann William Scott Jay Baruchel | Goon: Last of the Enforcers

Wyatt Russell, who notably had his own career as a junior hockey player, goes very big as the despicable star player who ends Glatt's career before taking over his beloved Halifax Highlanders team. Russell's talents are mismanaged in an inconsistently written role where he must both lead and spat with combative teammates alongside a problematic relationship with his troublesome father/team owner (Callum Keith Rennie).

Baruchel's Popular Mechanics for Kids co-star Elisha Cuthbert is a welcome addition using elements of her happy-go-lucky demeanour (shades of Happy Endings) as Pill's dim but hard partying sister. Comedian T.J. Miller appears alongside TSN host James Duthie in a series of comedic sports highlights interstitials that, while very funny, are wildly distracting detours.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers plays up the over the top violence and slapstick comedy without the same sweet earnestness or raw, gritty, and visceral feel of the first. Baruchel heightens the film with his comic sensibilities and lets his actors riff more leisurely at the expense of the hockey story. Where Goon was operatic or contemplative in its visual and thematic exploration of hockey fighting, its sequel takes a much more polished yet sillier approach.


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