Goon – 4.5 stars

Co-written by Jay Baruchel (of Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder) and Evan Goldberg (writer of Superbad and Pineapple Express), this comedy has a Judd Apatow feel and a direct lineage to Slap Shot. Seann William Scott (Doug Glatt) plays a dim but loveable lunk in Canada who is recruited as a goon by the Halifax franchise after he dismantles an out-of-control hockey player who jumped into the stands. He soon finds his purpose, his love, and his destiny, in the form of the greatest enforcer of all, Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), and in the process, coalesces a fractured club.

This is a clever meld of sports schmaltz and sharp, crude comedy, and it was unfairly overlooked. Scott is supremely disciplined in playing a sweet dolt. We get none of his smirk from the American Pie movies, which makes his elevation from the ranks of security guard and bouncer to hockey hero touching and sweet. When his love interest (Allison Pill) runs up to him crying after breaking up with her boyfriend, he asks “Did you just see Rudy?” and you believe the question is sincere. When Pill, a hockey player groupie, tells him, “You make me wanna stop sleeping with a bunch of guys,” he replies, “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me” and it seems so.

The hockey itself is not particularly realistic but, like Slap Shot, director Michael Dowse handles the speed, fluidity and violence of the game well and largely for comedic effect.  Goldberg and Baruchel even include their own version of the Hansen brothers, two Russian jokesters who plague the team’s insecure goalie.

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