Viking Night: Goon
By Bruce Hall
October 1, 2013
I've never been to Massachusetts, but I hear it's like most places in that if you don't know how to do anything useful, your life will suck. This is the problem facing Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a loveable but dimwitted bar bouncer whose talent for punching people in the face is nearly equaled by his ability to take crushing blows to the skull, eat candy and drink beer. Doug would lead a charmed life, were it not for the fact that his father (Eugene Levy) and brother Ira (David Paetkau) are both successful doctors. Doug's brother admires his plucky attitude, and ability to tear human cartilage like rice paper. But the Elder Glatt does not approve of his son's violent vocation, and lets it be known in the subtle, loving way of all parents who enjoy shaming their children.
The only one who truly appreciates Doug's God given ability to crush face is his best friend Pat, (Jay Baruchel), a fellow ice hockey fan who runs a website devoted to the sport. One day, the pals take in a minor league match and one of the visiting team's players steps up to Pat during a time out. Doug intervenes and punches the guy so hard his helmet splits open like an egg. Of course the home team coach sees this, and of course he wants Doug on his team, because of course anyone can learn how to play hockey for the first time at 27 and make it work. Remember, though, this isn't a movie about hockey. This is a movie about overcoming your own limitations.
Doug’s limitation is that he isn't a hockey player. He's an enforcer or "goon", which is a nice way of saying "big tough asshole who beats up anyone who gives our players shit." And he's good at it - so good that he eventually gets a call from a Canadian minor league team desperate for some low budget Tebow Magic. Their best player - the flamboyantly arrogant Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin) - hasn't been the same since getting knocked unconscious by Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liev Schreiber), Canada's most notorious enforcer, who is in his final season. Doug's new job is to shadow LaFlamme and keep him safe for their upcoming playoff run. But of course that means a run in with The Boss, who makes a career out of ending careers.
Why yes, you can totally see where this story is going even before the opening credits are done, and there is no effort made to deceive or misdirect you about that. If you're looking for a challenge, this is not the movie for you.
And speaking of things that aren’t challenging, did I say this was also a romantic comedy? I have no idea why we can't just enjoy watching angry men in handlebar moustaches strap razors to their feet and hit each other with sticks. But for those of you who need more, enter the absurdly adorable Alison Pill as Eva, a girl who hangs around bars sleeping with hockey players because it's her thing, and because her boyfriend looks like Billy Zane's underachieving nephew. She and Doug hit it off - she is drawn to him because of his inherent sweetness and loyalty, and he likes her because girls and boobs. But their relationship gives the script a chance to highlight Doug's big puppy dog heart, and to some degree it balances out the Tom and Jerry level of violence that sporadically dot the movie.