09th Sep2017

‘Goon: Last of the Enforcers’ Review

by Guest

Review by Matthew Turner

Stars: Seann William Scott, Alison Pill, Marc-Andre Grondin, Liev Schreiber, Wyatt Russell, Kim Coates, Elisha Cuthbert, Jay Baruchel, Callum Keith Rennie, Jonathan Mark Cherry | Written by Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot | Directed by Jay Baruchel

goon-2-poster

Back in 2011, Michael Dowse’s Canadian sports comedy Goon was a minor hit with critics, but only ended up taking a modest $12m at the U.S. box office. Evidently, however, the film has since picked up something of a cult following, which explains the presence of this somewhat belated but nonetheless entertaining sequel that reunites the majority of the key players.

The directorial debut of actor Jay Baruchel (who co-wrote and co-starred in the first film), the sequel finds sweet-natured but dim-witted ice hockey bruiser Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) still playing for his beloved Halifax Highlanders and now married to former girlfriend Eva (Alison Pill), who has just announced that she’s expecting. However, Doug’s career comes to a premature end when his arm is badly injured by rival enforcer Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), the son of the Highlanders’ manipulative boss Hyrum (Callum Keith Rennie).

To add insult to injury for Doug’s former teammates, Hyrum brings in Anders to be the new captain of the Highlanders. Meanwhile, bored senseless in his new insurance job, Doug secretly seeks out former rival-turned-mentor Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), in the hopes of learning how to fight left-handed so he can return to the game he loves.

As with the first film, the key strength of Goon: Last of the Enforcers lies in its collection of likeable comic characters. Cast once again against type, Scott is sweet and charming as Doug, though there’s an underlying sadness and a hint of life imitating art when you suddenly realise that Scott has done nothing of note in the last six years.

As for the supporting cast, Russell lends an effective degree of glowering rage to his otherwise under-developed role, while Schreiber is a delight as Rhea and there are very funny turns from the likes of Jonathan Cherry and Trent Pardy as Doug’s teammates. However, Pill, so wonderful in the first film, is severely under-served here, with her character more or less reduced to the concerned pregnant wife role, though at least the film is savvy enough to allow her to complain about it.

One character conspicuous by his absence is Eugene Levy as Doug’s father, though Elisha Cuthbert is a welcome substitute as Eva’s gleefully coarse sister Mary – Cuthbert proved with TV’s Happy Endings that she’s an engaging and under-used comic talent and she’s on scene-stealing form here. By contrast, T.J. Miller (so great in TV’s Silicon Valley) is wasted as a dickish sportscaster, though Jason Jones is hilarious as Doug’s slacker boss at his insurance job.

Unfortunately, Goon: Last of the Enforcers suffers from a lack of focus. There are a number of potentially strong story elements (life after violent sports stardom, the team’s failing fortunes, father-son conflict, the pressure on Doug’s marriage, his conflict with Anders etc), but none of them are properly developed, which leaves the screenplay feeling like it could have used a final punch-up. In particular, Doug’s rivalry with Anders never convinces because it doesn’t seem to be rooted in anything and the characters don’t share any scenes off the ice.

That said, it’s fun to spend time with these likeable characters and the film is consistently amusing, even if it never quite hits the comedic heights of its predecessor. Oh, and note to producers: if there’s a Goon 3, make sure you give Pill and Cuthbert more screentime.

*** 3/5

Goon: Last of the Enforcers is in UK cinemas on VOD/Digital Download now.

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