Film Review: Goon: Last of the EnforcersA somewhat disappointing sequel to a great sports comedy that probably didn’t need a sequel.
In 2011, Canadian actor Jay Baruchel really knocked one out of the park (or is it out of the rink?) when he co-wrote the hockey comedy Goon with fellow Canadian Evan Goldberg. It allowed him to tell a story within the world of a sport he clearly loved, and you didn’t have to be a hockey fan to appreciate it. The results were a movie on par with Paul Newman’s hockey comedy Slap Shot, a popular cult favorite from the ’70s.
The sequel mostly follows suit, with Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt still just as lovable a dimwitted lug as he was before. Doug is getting old, too old to get into the type of on-ice slugfests for which he’s become renowned. With the NHL in a lockout, the minor-league Halifax Highlanders are invaded by players looking for work, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) brings in his son Anders (Wyatt Russell) to take over as captain when Doug gets badly injured. Since Doug’s wife Eva (Alison Pill) is pregnant, he’s forced to take a dead-end day job working as a clerk to make ends meet.
For the sequel, Baruchel takes over the directing duties, as well as reprising his role as Doug’s best friend Pat, who plays a much smaller role in the sequel. The weaker script could be attributed to Goldberg being absent from the writing process, and he’s sorely missed as Baruchel and new co-writer Jesse Chabot generally go for lower hanging fruit in terms of laughs. It makes one wonder whether the best parts of the original book by Douglas Smith and Adam Frattasio were used up for the original movie.
Scott is just as easy to like as Doug a second time around, although his relationship with Eva takes on a different dynamic from when they were dating, which may not necessarily be one the primarily male hockey fans would appreciate. It also leads to one of the easier and more obvious gags of having Eva go into childbirth and having to turn to Pat to get a ride to the hospital.
Scott and Pill have a few emotional moments, but their scenes never quite connect. Elisha Cuthbert plays Eva’s sister, another relatively innocuous and forgettable role that doesn’t give the normally funny actress much to do.
Russell isn’t bad as the angry new team captain who doesn’t fit in with the Highlanders at all. The dynamics of the team and its wacky oddball characters are obviously lacking without Scott in the mix, as the film cuts between Doug being an adult and the team trying to get along without him, making it obvious that Doug will eventually be asked to rejoin.
The characters that probably transitioned best from the first movie are the Slavic brothers who constantly berate their teammate Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin) with the most vulgar R-rated putdowns. Some of their jokes connect for laughs, but many others just leave you going, “Ewwww...”
On the other hand, there just isn’t enough of Liev Schreiber’s Ross Rhea, whose appearance is more of an extended cameo to offer Doug some advice before he returns for the climactic last act. Instead, we repeatedly cut back to Jason Jones and T.J. Miller as two moronic sportscasters, the kind that were done much more effectively in Dodgeball and even Best in Show.
The actual hockey scenes are still fun to watch, although some of the in-rink fighting seems more contrived and choreographed than in the first movie. One of the funnier ideas Baruchel introduces is something called “Sh*t Show,” an actual league for older hockey players where fans can watch the on-ice fighting without all that annoying hockey to ruin the reason they come to matches. This all leads up to one of the more obvious sports endings possible, as Doug and Anders face off in one last gory slugfest.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers does get slightly better as it goes into that third act, but after a summer full of disappointing sequels, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that we’re getting yet another.
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