Goon 1 & 2
Goon (February 15/12)
Based on a non-fiction book by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith, Goon follows affable (and somewhat dimwitted) bouncer Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) as he's added to the roster of a minor-league hockey team due to his ability to take and land a punch - with the character's pugilistic tendencies making him an instant star within the hockey world. Despite the decidedly sports-centric nature of its premise, Goon, for the most part, comes off as a perpetually watchable and sporadically hilarious comedy that benefits substantially from the engaging work of its various actors - with Scott's consistently likeable performance matched by an eclectic group of co-stars (including Jay Baruchel, Kim Coates, and Liev Scheiber). Filmmaker Michael Dowse, working from a script by Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, smartly devotes just as much time to the characters' personal lives as he does to their on-the-ice exploits, and there's little doubt that the movie is at its best when focused on Doug's efforts at establishing himself among his teammates and his ongoing romance of a pretty yet promiscuous local (Alison Pill's Eva). And although the movie does lose a little momentum in its final half hour (ie the hockey stuff is finally, inevitably given the front-and-center treatment), Goon recovers for an unexpectedly engrossing climactic stretch that boasts an exhilarating (and astonishingly violent) confrontation between Doug and his mentor (Schreiber's Ross Rhea) - which ultimately does cement the film's place as a surprisingly decent sports flick that holds appeal for fans and neophytes alike.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers
A decidedly underwhelming sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers follows Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt as he’s forced to retire from hockey after an especially brutal beating from a smug new rookie (Wyatt Russell’s Anders Cain) – with the narrative detailing Doug’s inevitable efforts at working his way back into the major leagues. It becomes clear almost immediately that Goon: Last of the Enforcers is lacking in any clear sense of purpose, as scripters Jay Baruchel and Jesse Chabot deliver a rote, by-the-numbers narrative that relies heavily on some of the most egregious clichés one could possibly envision – with everything involving Doug’s fall from grace and eventual comeback, which is preceded by a hopelessly tedious training-heavy midsection, standing as the most obvious example of this. First-time filmmaker Baruchel proves unable to transform any of the movie’s characters, new and old, into compelling, three-dimensional figures, and, far worse, essentially relegates Scott’s central protagonist to the background for large swaths of the proceedings – which, in turn, forces the viewer to wonder just which of these wafer-thin individuals they’re meant to be rooting for. There is, as such, little here worth engaging with or caring about, with the sluggish pace ensuring that Goon: Last of the Enforcers grows less and less compelling as it slowly progresses. (It's clear, too, that the terminal lack of stakes here results in a climactic big game that falls hopelessly flat.) It's ultimately difficult to recall a followup that has so completely and thoroughly squandered the good will of its predecessor, which is a shame, really, given that the first Goon was an accessible, affable comedy geared towards hockey fans and neophytes alike.