With regard to ice hockey, the term “goon” refers to the person (or people) considered the muscle of the team, the enforcers if you will. In other words, the goon is the guy that’s going to hit you hard and put you into the boards, an action often instigating a fight…
This film revolves around Doug Glatt (played by Seann William Scott) who currently works as a bouncer and ends up discovering a talent for hockey. Well, sort of hockey, he eventually learns to skate but he starts at being good at the hitting part and eventually picks up the hockey end of things after a rocky start. During his new career he starts on a small local league only to be promoted to a semi-pro team a little later. Eventually Doug picks up the game as well as skating and finds himself on a collision course with the guy who’s considered the number one goon in the game (would this be top goon?). Liev Schreiber plays the veteran goon on his way to retirement and ends up clashing with Scott’s character in the final, climactic game of the season.
I enjoyed the film pretty much overall. It’s funny, warm-hearted at times, full of action (I used to play in a minor league myself so I have some appreciation here), and has a satisfying ending. The things I would offer as problems in the film is that the swearing and fights are a bit ridiculous. Not so much the acts themselves but more the frequency of both. The swearing just gets tired and boring after awhile with about a thousand f-bomb drops (fuck is my favorite word for swearing but geez it’s nearly constant sometimes). And the fights, yes, there are fights during hockey, I’ve been one or two myself but the frequency in this film is a bit over-the-top. There are fights in all levels of hockey (except kid’s leagues) but wow, there are a ton of fights. A number of fights happen before the puck even finishes hitting the ice.
Jay Baruchel is one of the forces behind the film (apparently he’s into hockey and has writing and producing credits) and plays the obnoxious best friend of Scott’s character. Baruchel’s character is ok in limited doses but gets a little annoying after awhile as his schtick starts to get a bit old. Scott is good in this, he’s passionate (even blocking a shot with his face), a bit goofy and too nice for his own good, but still manages to be fierce when the situation warrants it. Schreiber as the bad guy is cold and kind of dickish but in a way that seemed realistic and not cartoony; he’s a damn fine actor and highly underrated in my opinion.
In terms of classic sports films, I would put this somewhere near but below Slapshot (the classic with Paul Newman); ultimately worth a night at home with popcorn and Netflix.
reviewed by Sean McKnight