You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the 2011 comedy Goon would be quite bad. You also wouldn’t be alone in feeling surprised and uplifted by how genuinely funny it was; and though it may have been on the violent side, much like the titular protagonist it maintained a rather sweet and endearing edge. When films are well-received it often means we end up with a sequel – which brings us to Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Now, you also wouldn’t be alone in finding this follow-up rather underwhelming.
Ice Hockey star Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) has a reputation for knocking people out. So much so, he’s made captain of his beloved Halifax Highlanders, hoping to lead his local team to victory. Until he comes up against a formidable opponent in Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who ends the former’s career with a savage beating. Taking a job at an insurance company, Doug wants to provide for his wife Eva (Alison Pill) and their unborn child, though he harbours a longing to get back into the rink and kick the shit out of somebody, even seeking the advice of Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to help with his rehabilitation. With the Highlanders on a losing streak he feels compelled to return into the fold and help them out – but the problem is, they’ve since signed Cain, and if the side want to succeed, the pair would have to put their differences aside.
The film touches upon an intriguing theme that is seldom seen in sports movies – that of the protagonist nearing the end of their career and needing to find a new means of keeping them engaged (and financed) when their body no longer allows them to follow their passion. We’re particularly invested in Doug’s situation too, for he’s a character we care a great deal about. Scott brings to the role to life so well, with a blissful naivety, almost childlike in his inability to figure anything out for himself. Like all great comedic creations there’s an element of tragedy to the role too, for he cuts a rather sad figure, particularly when engulfed in this masculine world, where violence is so prevalent. The underground society that Ross is a figurehead in, of outright brawls in front of small crowds for some extra cash on the side is all quite depressing.
But it’s not a sentiment that director Jay Baruchel lingers on too greatly, for this film has not lost that overt, slapstick-like comedy that illuminated the first (the director’s character Pat emblematic of this notion). But the feature is cheapened persistently by the juvenile comedy, funny at times, but some of the gags are so inane, and some that play on cultural stereotypes that are neither funny nor appropriate. On a more positive note, it’s funny how low-key the whole narrative remains, it’s not a huge championship the Highlanders are vying to get their hands on, it’s merely a spot in the play-offs, with the stakes not particularly high, which is befitting of the entire production.
It’s a flawed feature, and many, if not most of the jokes don’t land, which is somewhat detrimental given the fact this is a comedy. They’d have had a much better success rate if Doug’s boss Bob Forbes – played by Jason Jones – had a bigger role, for he steals the show in his limited time on screen. We would welcome a spin-off – but think t’s time Doug and co. hung up their skates for good.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers is released on September 8th.