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Goon: Last of the Enforcers

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jay Baruchel

Cast: Seann William Scott, Alison Pill, Wyatt Russell, Kim Coates, Marc-André Grondin, Liev Schreiber, Callum Keith Rennie, Elisha Cuthbert, Jay Baruchel, David Paetkau, Andrew Herr, T.J. Miller, Jason Jones

MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive language, crude sexual content and bloody sports violence)

Running Time: 1:41

Release Date: 9/1/17 (limited)


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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 31, 2017

There's something decidedly off about Goon: Last of the Enforcers. This sequel to the 2012 hockey comedy Goon continues the story of Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott), a genuinely nice guy who became a brawler for a minor league hockey team because he couldn't do anything else. The first film was anchored by the character of Doug—as well as Scott's finely tuned performance—who didn't want to fight anyone but felt like it was his responsibility to protect his teammates.

This one maintains the sincerity of the character, although he comes across as a bit dumber than before, and Scott is still just right as the eminently likeable dope. Everything else, though, has changed—and not for the better.

For one thing, it's kind of pointless that Doug's story continue, partly because the character is based on a real person, whose life story can't even be referenced in relation to what happens here, and partly because the original film said everything that needed to be said about the character. To the credit of screenwriters Jay Baruchel (who also directed) and Jesse Chabot, the movie finds an intriguing angle from which to approach the story, but that's about where credit ends.

Doug is still with the same team after a few years following the season in the previous film, but a devastating fight with Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), the enforcer of an opposing team and the son of the new owner (played by Callum Keith Rennie) of Doug's team, leaves him with a career-ending shoulder injury. With a baby on the way with his wife Eva (Alison Pill), Doug has to take a regular job to make ends meet.

The biggest change here is in the material surrounding Doug. The first film's comedy was based within its characters, particularly how Doug would behave in and react to violent situations with an unflappable air of politeness—apologizing before, while, and after fighting someone on or off the ice. The gag, apparently, isn't enough for Baruchel and Chabot, who surround Doug with new and familiar characters whose personalities are a 10 on an off-kilter scale that only goes to five.

Doug's teammates, for example, were weird in the first film, but now, they're even weirder. A couple of Russian players "prank" one of their teammates with a sandwich garnished with a sauce of their making. Doug's new boss (played by Jason Jones) introduces Doug to an alleyway where unspeakable things happen, before he ends his part in the story by starting an unspeakable act on himself. Eva's best friend Mary (Elisha Cuthbert) is an over-the-top alcoholic, and Doug's old friend Pat (Barcuhel) is still aggressive in his enthusiasm, although it's more annoying than endearing this time around. T.J. Miller plays an anchor on a sports show who gets away with inappropriate commentary that would get anyone in the real-world kicked off the air in about a minute.

Doug's rival Anders is a psychologically unbalanced guy, with unaddressed father issues and a nearly psychotic temper, who ends up taking Doug's spot on the team. It's a far cry from the rivalry with Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who also appears here. He has since retired, too, and is involved a semi-underground fighting league for retired players. The plot focuses on Doug trying to return to the sport with Ross' help, while ignoring his all-too-forgiving, pregnant wife in the process (Pill's performance at least makes Eva stronger than we might expect from this cliché).

There's a good story in the relationship between Doug and Ross, about their shared need to be part of the sport that has defined them, even after that sport and their bodies have abandoned them. If one is going to make a mostly unnecessary sequel, it might as well have something to say about the evolving nature of this character and his story, and in the scenes with Ross, there are flashes of what that hypothetical movie could have been. Schreiber's performance is the movie's most grounded, as a man who hasn't accepted that his glory days are finished.

For a while, it seems as if the movie's central question is whether or not Doug will realize the same about his own career. Instead, the story moves into familiar territory, with a big comeback (making the entire dilemma of Doug's retirement a minor obstacle) and a retread of the first film's story of an underdog hockey team rising through the ranks. The major differences are that Eva wants Doug to avoid fights and, when that promise doesn't last for long, that Doug can only use his left arm. It all culminates with the Big Game and the Big Fight between Doug and his new rival.

The tone of the sequel is goofier and a bit meaner (It's a little disconcerting how often and the way in which characters bring up that Doug is Jewish), which goes against the entire point of Doug's character. This is the most off-putting thing about Goon: Last of the Enforcers, but it certainly doesn't help that the movie's story constantly reminds us how pointless a sequel is.

Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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