Aside from eating cake and shovelling snow, The Boy and I also celebrated this past February 29th * by watching Goon.
* Am I the only one that gets a little giddy thinking about that day? I know it’s totally arbitrary, and Who cares? One extra day per four years, but I can’t get over it. The idea of squeezing in that one extra day of sunshine every once in awhile without throwing everything off? Just fills me with glee. And makes my head hurt a little (How did the druids deal with the disparity between festivals? Did they even notice??) but mostly with the glee.
Anyhow, as an established hockey widow, I admit that I had fairly low expectations going into this. I enjoyed Slap Shot and Les Boys (even Les Boys II, which wasn’t as bad as I expected) but let’s be honest: there’s a limit to the number of ways you can spin a hockey movie about adults. Nonetheless, The Boy, brimming over from reviews that touted this film as the next Slap Shot, had organized a boys’ outing to watch and, seeing that Tomato’s reviewers were at 73%, I decided to tag along when invited. (For reasons unknown to me, this film opened in Canada nearly a month earlier than it’ll be out in the US. Not sure if they’re using us as a test market or what, but if so, I have to say their demographic is a little off. If there’s any nation who’ll get a kick out of this movie, even if it sucked, it’s ours. But then, what do I know about marketing?)
So, how was it? In two words, violently heart-warming. (I suppose the pedants would argue that that’s three words. Bah.) In more than two words? Well.
First off, I love the characters. It’s a little strange for me, the fanatic lover of snappy dialogue and unrealistically smart characters (hellooo BBC’s Sherlock), to say this but even though no one in the film is even on the smart end of “average”, I thoroughly enjoyed every single character. There’s only 4 or 5 that you really get to meet, but oh, how likeable and real they are!
Scott (AKA Stiffler) impressed the hell out of me, firstly for being able to gain 30-40lbs in a purely “I am not chubby, but made of meat!” fashion, but mostly for his sweetly stubborn character portrayal. Doug may not know much, but he knows what’s right, and he’ll do it, come Hell or high water. If it weren’t for all the crudeness Jay Baruchel kept peppering in, I might have used the word “poignant” somewhere up there.
Onto Jay. He wrote, produced and co-starred in this film and… it just kind of works. The ultimate small-town, hockey-obsessed nerd, he brings to Goon what Anthony Michael Hall brought to Sixteen Candles: comedy and some plot impetuses. Impeti? He got the story moving forward, is what I’m getting at, and yes, got the guys in the audience (I’m pretty sure Maria and I were the only ladies present) laughing.
Is this movie a comedy? I’d be hesitant to describe it that way. It has comic moments, for sure, but aside from all the blood and cringing (and there was a lot of both, so if you’re squeamish about hockey injuries, don’t see this movie) I feel that there were also too many Feelings (for lack of a better word) to classify this truly as a comedy.
There are lots of comedies where dudes get mad at each other (e.g. I Love You, Man) but the grudges never feel real to me. The emotions always come across as surface only, conflicts easily solved by a beer and a good night’s sleep (or more usually a good night’s painting the town red). Goon, on the other hand, has all of life’s messy relationships: from light-hearted ongoing jabs to real resentment, parental and sibling relations, along with jealousy and guilt; a whole, hormonal gamut of human conflict, explored through the story of the new guy trying to fit in and do what’s right. It’s gritty and glorious and in my mind elevates this movie beyond “mere comedy”.
And then, of course, there’s the girl. Because you can’t drag hockey widows out to the movies and only show them the crude jokes and bloody ice, right? Much like Baruchel’s character, the romance in this film helps to lighten some pretty heavy brutality. Predictably perhaps, I really enjoyed the romantic storyline, because Eva is so horribly, delightfully average. I don’t mean she was average in a bland, personality-less way, though (ahem, Bella from Twilight). Eva was average in that she was very much flawed in some aspects, but stellar in others, and Baruchel built a great character out of her, and let her run amok.
In all, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Well… except for the moments when everyone in the theatre was cringing from the violence. That just made the rest of it that much more enjoyable though.
I’d give it 8/9, which is just as well since I’m pretty sure The Boy’s buying it as soon as it’s available.