Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Dowse|
|Music by||Ramachandra Borcar|
|Edited by||Reginald Harkema|
|Box office||$7 million|
Goon is a 2011 Canadian sports comedy film directed by Michael Dowse, written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, and starring Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill, Marc-André Grondin, Kim Coates and Eugene Levy. The film concerns the exceedingly nice but somewhat dimwitted Doug Glatt (Scott), who unexpectedly finds personal and professional fulfillment after becoming the enforcer for a minor league ice hockey team.
Despite receiving largely positive reviews, the film was a box office disappointment, only earning $7 million against its $12 million budget. After premiering on Netflix, however, it became an unexpected success, leading to an increase in DVD sales and VOD downloads, ultimately resulting in a sequel being greenlit.
Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), is a polite, kind-hearted, but dimwitted bouncer at a bar in Massachusetts. Doug feels ostracized from society, especially since his father and brother are both successful physicians. Doug attends a minor league hockey game with his best friend Pat (Jay Baruchel). Pat taunts the visiting team during a fight and one of their players climbs into the stands, calling him a homophobic slur. Doug, whose brother is gay, steps in and easily beats up the opposing player. Soon after, Doug gets a phone call from the coach of his hometown team, who offers him a job as an enforcer.
Meanwhile, veteran enforcer and Doug's idol Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liev Schreiber) is demoted to the minors after serving a 20-game suspension for slashing an opponent in the head from behind. Three years prior, Rhea hit and concussed the highly skilled prospect Xavier Laflamme (Marc-André Grondin), who has had trouble recovering from the incident due to the fear of being hit. As a result, Laflamme is still stuck in the minors, playing for the Halifax Highlanders. As Doug's reputation grows, eventually earning the nickname "Doug the Thug," the Highlanders' coach hires Doug to protect Laflamme and be his roommate.
The Highlanders experience success with Doug as their enforcer, and he quickly becomes popular among fans and teammates, much to the chagrin of his parents and Laflamme, who loses ice time and the alternate-captaincy to Doug. Meanwhile, Doug becomes romantically involved with Eva (Alison Pill), a hockey fan with a penchant for sleeping with players.
With four games left on their schedule, the Highlanders need two wins to secure a playoff spot. On a road game in Quebec, after an opposing player concusses Laflamme with a heavy hit, Doug savagely beats the player unconscious and is suspended for the next game against Rhea and the St. John's Shamrocks. Doug encounters Rhea at a diner, where Rhea dismisses Doug's claim that he is a hockey player, calling him a goon. Though Rhea acknowledges Doug's physical prowess and gives Doug his respect, Rhea warns him that if they ever meet on the ice, he will "lay [him] the fuck out." The Highlanders, with Doug suspended and Laflamme hospitalized, lose to the Shamrocks.
Doug reaches out to Laflamme and promises him he will always protect him on the ice; the incident touches Laflamme, who reconsiders his animosity towards Doug. In their next game, the Highlanders lead 1–0 thanks to strong teamwork between Doug and Laflamme. In the final seconds, Doug blocks a slapshot with his face and his ankle is injured in the ensuing scramble. The Highlanders win, but need a win against Rhea and the Shamrocks in their last game for a playoff spot.
After two periods, the Shamrocks are beating the Highlanders 2–0. Rhea and Doug mutually agree to fight in the third period; although Rhea manages to knock Doug down, and Doug re-breaks his previously injured ankle, Doug emerges victorious, knocking Rhea unconscious. Eva and his teammates help a seriously injured Doug off the ice and Laflamme, inspired by Doug's efforts and Rhea's defeat, scores a natural hat trick, giving the Highlanders a 3–2 lead. As the game enters its final minute, Eva comforts Doug in the locker room as he comments, "I think I nailed him."
- Seann William Scott as Doug "The Thug" Glatt
- Liev Schreiber as Ross "The Boss" Rhea
- Alison Pill as Eva
- Jay Baruchel as Pat
- Marc-André Grondin as Xavier Laflamme
- Eugene Levy as Dr. Glatt
- David Paetkau as Ira Glatt
- Kim Coates as Coach Ronnie Hortense
- Richard Clarkin as Gord Ogilvey
- Jonathan Cherry as Goalie Marco "Belchie" Belchior
- Ricky Mabe as John Stevenson
- Georges Laraque as Huntington
- Curt Keilback as Rod McCaudry
The film is an adaptation of the book Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey by Adam Frattasio and Doug Smith. Footage from Smith's career as an enforcer is shown during the film's credits, and Smith said in an interview with Grantland.com that he is happy with the finished film. The book was discovered by Jesse Shapira and his producing partner David Gross. Along with Baruchel and Goldberg, they developed the script and then proceeded to package and independently finance the movie. It was the first film under their No Trace Camping banner.
Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque has a small role as an enforcer for the Albany Patriots. His character fights both Glatt and Rhea over the course of the film. He draws with Glatt and the outcome of his fight with Rhea is not shown. When Laraque's character fights Glatt, the dialogue closely resembles the dialogue used by Georges Laraque in a fight against Raitis Ivanāns in December 2006.
Goon was filmed in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Most of the hockey scenes were filmed at the Portage Credit Union Centre in Portage la Prairie, even though the Halifax Metro Centre was shown as the home of the Halifax Highlanders. The home arena of the Quebec Victoires was filmed at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. Other scenes were filmed at St. James Civic Centre in Winnipeg, and the Keystone Centre in Brandon was shown as the home arena for the St. John's Shamrocks.
The stick-swinging incident for which Rhea was suspended during the film's story bears a strong resemblance to an incident in the NHL when Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins slashed Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks in the head from behind on February 21, 2000. McSorley was suspended 23 games for the incident, which was extended to a full year after he was convicted of assault and sentenced to 18 months of probation. McSorley would never play another NHL game. Due to the slash and the fall on the ice, Brashear suffered a concussion, the same injury Laflamme suffered at the hands of Rhea in an unrelated incident.
Another infamous NHL incident alluded to in the film is the Boston Bruins climbing into the stands and fighting the fans at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 1979. This was provoked by a Rangers fan who slapped Stan Jonathan hard enough with a rolled-up program to draw blood, and subsequently stole Jonathan's stick. Mike Milbury infamously beat a fan with the fan's own shoe. Milbury was suspended for six games for his involvement in the altercation. His teammates Terry O'Reilly and Peter McNab were suspended for eight and six games respectively. All of the Bruins players were also punished with $500 fines, while the fan was charged with disorderly conduct. It was also similar to an event in which a fan jumped into the penalty box with Tie Domi of the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 29, 2001.
The teams Doug Glatt plays for over the course of the film both reference the Philadelphia Flyers, an NHL team that became infamous for physically intimidating their opponents during the 1970s. Glatt's home team, the Orangetown Assassins, wear a uniform similar to the ones the Flyers wore during the 1980s, including the orange and black color scheme; perhaps coincidentally, the logo strongly resembles that of the Philadelphia Arrows, a minor league team that preceded the Flyers. The Halifax Highlanders employ a logo that is structured as the letter H with a circle signifying a puck on the right and wings on the left side of the letter; the Flyers logo has a similar design but with the letter P. The Highlanders team colors and name, however, are similar to those of the New York Islanders.
The scene in which Rhea becomes emotional during his suspension related press conference is a reference to former hockey forward and Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi. While playing for the Canucks, Bertuzzi punched Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche in the back of the neck, effectively ending his NHL career. Later during the press conference, Bertuzzi tearfully apologized for his actions that had him fined $500,000 and suspended for 17 months.
In Toronto and Montreal, prior to its premiere, posters for the film were removed from city bus shelters after several complaints from the public due to Baruchel making a "sexually suggestive gesture with his tongue and fingers."
Stephen Holden, writing for The New York Times gave a positive review that credits all the major performances. Goon was nominated for three awards at the 1st Canadian Screen Awards: Michael Dowse for Achievement In Direction, Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Jay Baruchel and Kim Coates, both for Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.
The timing of the film’s release was considered controversial by some as the previous summer featured the deaths of three NHL enforcers – Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak – all three of whom suffered from depression and head trauma that are believed to be factors in their deaths.
Baruchel wrote a sequel with Jesse Chabot. Michael Dowse was stated to return to direct but it was Baruchel who directed the film, making it his directorial debut. Evan Goldberg produced the sequel. The title of the film is Goon: Last of the Enforcers.
In an interview Baruchel expressed interest in a third movie, “I don’'t want to get into trouble, and I'm not saying there's going to be a Goon 3," Baruchel says, "but there's more than one way to skin a cat. We're not done in this universe yet."
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