Preview: Goon – A not so funny film about a hockey stereotype

For all the attention, passion and discussion devoted to hockey in this country, there haven’t been very many good movies made about the sport. Call me a snob but there just aren’t any Field of Dreams or Bull Durhams in the hockey movie genre.

The most recent Canadian made attempt at depicting hockey on the silver screen isn’t going to do much to change that.

Goon is about misfit from a professional family that happens to have a talent with his fists as a bouncer. Oh hell… why not just let the producers describe the plot:

Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way.

Sounds like a classic.

Goon has lots of scenes like this in it. Lots and lots.

The movie stars Seann William Scott (“Stiffler” in American Pie) as the enforcer. Canadian actor Jay Baruchel, who has been in some big box office flicks like Million Dollar Baby is also in it as a hockey blogger (hello!) and he also wrote the screenplay. It’s directed by another Canadian, Michael Dowse. Eugene Levy and rather surprisingly, Liev Schreiber (Defiance) are also in the cast.  Here’s one of the film’s trailers:

After watching a couple of these, I get it: Smashing people’s faces in and knocking out teeth is evidently very funny shit. Baruchel excitedly boasts Goon has 17 fight scenes and 55 speaking parts (that a Can-Con requirment?)

Anyway, while watching these previews I’m left wondering who the movie is aimed at. Hockey fans? The general movie-going public? It might register a few chuckles from both but here’s the thing: The timing for this film really couldn’t be worse following the tragic deaths last year of real-life enforcers Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard.

Along with the recent epidemic of concussions that has dealt the sport a serious black-eye PR-wise, the viability of fighting itself is being hotly debated at all levels of hockey.

Because of that and more stringent enforcement of rules ala Brendan Shanahan, there’s been a definite shift in sentiment about violence and fighting in the past decade. Even Leafs’ GM Brian Burke lamented last week that the days of the enforcer may be numbered as he could no longer afford to keep a one-dimensional thug on the team’s payroll just to beat up opponents.

This isn’t 1974 with the Hanson Brothers wreaking violent havoc in Slap Shot. That was funny then but so was All In The Family and Happy Days. I think we’ve moved along.

In 2012 smashing someone’s face into a pulp as a laugh-getter … I dunno. Call me a party-pooper but this stuff just isn’t that funny. I know it’s just a movie about hockey but it once again sends a message to American audiences that the sport is ultra-violent where goons are the stars and fights are the draw.

It’s sad in a way that the movie-making world hasn’t moved with the times and wallows in a stereotype of the game that is no longer even valid.

Goon looks like another hockey film you can toss on the already large pile of junk in this genre. It looks destined for a rental or more likely, coming to an On Demand menu near you.

Goon opens next month in theatres.

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About Rolf Sturm

Sportswriter & blogger, news writer, video journalist, photographer, podcaster
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