“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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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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