DID YOU READ

“Goon” – impressions of a hockey movie masterpiece

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By Jordan Hoffman

Movies about baseball, basketball or football present a vocation rich in glory, glamour and dignity. There haven’t been too many films about hockey, but each one I see makes it look like a tour in ‘Nam. “Goon,” directed by Michael Dowse and co-written by Jay Baruchel has the makings of a frat house masterpiece and may just be my favorite, rowdy sports flick since the original “Bad News Bears.”

Try to imagine Lenny from “Of Mice and Men” on skates and you’ve got Doug Glatt. Seann William Scott is wonderfully cast as the kind hearted blockhead whose ability to both take and deliver a punch may lead his team toward victory. When we first meet him he’s working as a bouncer and looking for direction. (His domineering father played by Eugene Levy is a successful doctor, and not very proud of his son.) His best buddy, Baruchel, is a Grade-A New England dirtbag and hockey blogger. After a trip to a local minor league game leads to a fight in the stands, Doug finds himself with an offer to lace up and join as an enforcer, or, as is commonly known, be the (I bet you didn’t see this one coming) Goon.

One musical montage later (Canadian deities Rush, of course, with one of their early ones) Doug finds himself moved up from a team “not named for a radio station” but an actual major league farm club. His job is simple: protect the star player Guy LaFlamme, a hard-partying bozo, but a truly great player whose confidence is shot after a recent injury.

The injury came from the high stick of Ross Rehna, the mustachioed elder statesman of Goon-dom played by Liev Schrieber. The stage is now set for an operatic match-up as the bloody gloves prepare to be passed to the next generation.

Of the seven hundred things I love about the movie “Goon,” most stem from this: it makes no apologies. It revels in its brawls, belches and blue humor. Yes, there’s a race to the playoffs, but this is all secondary to true aims of our hero – and his goal, as is made perfectly clear – is to beat the hell out of Liev Schrieber. Oh, there’s team camaraderie galore, but it is stripped of much of the usual sports cliché bullshit and this refreshing honesty makes you care about the outcome even more.

By some miracle it actually does a decent job of explaining how the psychology of sanctioned fighting actually works in hockey. (I’ve often heard drunken yahoos, often with Boston accents, say “it’s paaht of the game,” but “Goon” was the first time I ever saw how.)

A sports film is nothing without its side characters and “Goon” has a locker room full of classic sociopaths. There’s also the best announcer since “Best in Show” and a fantastic angry coach in Kim Coates. The second he appeared I sprang up in my seat – aw, man, Tig from “Sons of Anarchy” is gonna scream at ’em on a bus! “Goon” does not disappoint, and he gets in a line that every kid on a hockey team will be quoting from now til the day the world freezes over.

“Goon” is a marvelous picture and, yeah, it’s “got heart” – but it is also smart enough to know that its core audience is too boozed-up and rowdy for too much heart. It is loud, violent, but really, really sharp. There are moments when the jokes are flying by as fast as the puck, so I’m sure I missed something. I’m sure I’ll get ’em all eventually, as this is a movie that’ll play on cable for years and always get you to stop flipping because “oh, wait, this next scene is the best.”

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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