Goon is another name for an enforcer, which is an unofficial role of a certain type of player in ice hockey. The enforcer’s job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition and when such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies. The 2012 movie Goon is about one such enforcer in minor league hockey. The film is an adaptation of the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith. Footage from Smith’s career as a hockey enforcer is shown during the films credits.
Directed by Michael Dowse (who was at the helm for FUBAR I & II) on a script written by Jay Baruchel & Evan Goldberg and stars starring Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber. Co-starring in the movie are Jay Baruchel, Allison Pill, Marc-Andre Grodin, Kim Coates, Eugene Levy, Nicholas Campbell & David Paetkau. Retired hockey player Geroges Laraque also appears in two small scenes, the second of which is inspired by an incident involving him.
Sean William Scott plays Doug Glatt, who lives & works in Massachusetts as a bouncer. He feels like a lesser man because both his father and his brother are doctors. While out to watch a local hockey game with his buddy Pat (Baruchel), who also hosts a local hockey based talk show, an opposing team’s hockey player climbs the stands to beat up Pat, who was taunting him. Doug instead knocks out the player with a punch, drawing cheers from the home crowd. He is noticed by the coach (Campbell) who soon calls him up to try out for the position of enforcer in the local team. Doug joins the team, although his skating skills are bad, and becomes so popular that he is soon called up to join the Halifax Highlanders, a minor league professional team. Meanwhile veteran enforcer and Doug’s idol Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber) of the St. John’s Shamrocks is serving a 20 game suspension for slashing an opponent in the head from behind.
The star player of the Highlanders is Xavier Laflamme (Grondin) who was hit by Rhea and suffered a concussion. has had trouble recovering from that incident due to the fear of being hit, being stuck in the minors and falling in with the wrong crowd. Doug, who gets the nicknamed ‘The Thug’ is to shadow & protect Laflamme and the two also become roommates. The team starts experiencing some success with Doug protecting the goal scorers and soon they have a chance to qualify for the playoffs. There is a lot of ribbing & making fun of each other in the team as Doug is fully integrated into the team and everyone except Laflamme has taken to him. Doug also meets and falls in love with Eva (Allison Pill) although she has a boyfriend. She later dumps her boyfriend who doesn’t seem that involved with her. On a road game against the Quebec team, Doug savagely hits an opposing player, who concusses Laflamme with a heavy hit, knocking him unconscious. Dough is suspended for the next game against a returning Rhea and the St. John’s Shamrocks.
The two accidentally meet at a diner the night before the game where they admit their respect for each other. However Rhea dismisses Doug’s claim that he is a hockey player, calling him a goon. Rhea warns him that if they ever meet on the ice, he will “lay him the fuck out.” The Highlanders, with Doug suspended and Laflamme hospitalized, lose to the Shamrocks. After this game Doug reaches out to Laflamme telling him to not worry and that he has his back. The two become close and the team wins the next game 2-1 and in the dying seconds, Doug blocks a shot on goal and his face is bloodied by the rebound shot. In the ensuing scramble, his ankle is broken when a player steps on it with the sharp edge. The next game is their final before the playoffs with the Highlanders needing a win to qalify. Rhea & Doug spar midway through the game and it’s a tough fight between a veteran and the newcomer. Doug is knocked down but gets up and breaks Rhea’s nose with a heavy punch, however hurting his own ankle in the process. Doug is helped to the locker room by Eva while the team goes on to win 3-2 and qualify. His last words before the win are “I think I nailed him”.
Very well shot and some good work by the actors. Sean William Scott is actually a good actor – who the heck knew? Schreiber is so bad ass & cool in his role as the retiring veteran. Allison Pill is so cute & sweet. I really enjoyed the movie, hockey fan that I am. 8 out of 10!