Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Goon

Goon made it onto 241 screens during its theatrical release and at first glance most people would say that was 241 too many.  We all know what a good sports comedy flick looks like – Slap Shot, Happy Gilmore, Wildcats – and for much of the film, this one resides on the opposite end of the spectrum from those movies.  The script is sophomoric; vulgar for the sake of being vulgar; and void of any real humor.  To say that it plays like one of those terrible direct-to-DVD American Pie sequels would be overly generous, and mainly because it appears that director Michael Dowse, and writers Jay Burachel and Evan Goldberg have no idea what kind of movie they are really trying to put together. 

The film - based on a true story - follows Seann William Scott’s Doug Glatt  - a simple man with a gift for fisticuffs, who finds his way onto a minor league hockey team as an enforcer.  The film chronicles his search for a purpose to life as it coincides with his team’s search for an identity.

So I say that the creative team behind this film has no idea what kind of film they are trying to put together, because it truly is an exercise in cinematic schizophrenia.  From one scene to the next, the movie seems to play like its living in a different genre as if the writers consciously decided to throw a bunch of garbage against the wall to see what would stick.  One moment it’s a guy flick flush with vulgar sexual references, and the next it’s a movie about familial dysfunction and disappointment.  Lest that not cover enough ground, a bit of romantic comedy comes into play before rounding out the project with a series of sports clich├ęs.  To some this sounds great – like there is something for everyone, but if you can envision a buffet featuring watery spaghetti, crusted egg rolls, dry mashed potatoes, and something resembling meat loaf sitting beneath the drab yellow glare of heat lamps, then you are beginning to grasp how this movie plays.

In regards to the cast, this is clearly a case of the talent playing down to the level of the writing.  Seann William Scott has done an admirable job of forging a career out of his less-than-ten-lines-total appearance in American Pie.  It seems with each successive role since, he has gone more over-the-top than his original portrayal of Stiffler.  However, in Goon, he portrays a man of few words and the truth to be told, this film proves that the less the man speaks, the better his performance. As for Liev Schreiber, he plays legendary hockey enforcer Ross  Rhea who lurks in the background of the plot and like his character who is at the end of his career and thus demoted to the minors, Shcreiber has definitely seen better days.  As for the rest of the cast, Eugene Levy (American Pie), Jay Baruchel (She’s Out of My League), and Alison Pill (Midnight in Paris) clearly are in it for the paycheck and maybe to add a link onto their IMDB resumes, because it’s hard to figure out why else they would agree to appear in this movie.

To be fair, it’s not all bad.  The back end of the last act picks up a bit as the movie moves into full-on sports flick mode.  After all, who doesn’t like the part of a sports narrative when a team desperately tries to come together to defy the odds?  Now are those feel good moments enough to elevate this movie into the “watchable” category?  Sadly, no.  When ninety-percent of a movie is terrible, there are very few endings that can overcome that.  And if some perfect storm of an ending exists that can overcome such mediocrity, the cast and crew do not discover it in Goon.  They say that studios don’t make sports movies anymore because such projects do not attract audiences in the international market, which have become an increasingly bigger piece of the theatrical revenue pie.  But if they ever need to look for a second reason why sports movies are extinct, they probably need look no farther than the quality of a film like Goon.

Standout Performance: Me, for making it through this film.

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