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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.