GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS ½
2017, R, 101 mins.
Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt / Alison Pill as Eva / Marc-André Grondin as Xavier LaFlamme / Wyatt Russell as Anders Cain / Callum Keith Rennie as Hyrum Cain / Liev Schreiber as Ross Rhea / Kim Coates as Ronnie Hortense / Richard Clarkin as Gord Oglivey / Elisha Cuthbert as Mary / Jay Baruchel as Pat / T.J. Miller as Sportscaster
Directed by Jay Baruchel / Written by Baruchel and Jesse Chabot
I'm not entirely sure what GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS - which is the sequel to the 2011 cult sports comedy hit GOON - is actually trying to say about enforcers in professional hockey.
films deal with the loveable punch drunk and
white knuckled hockey player Doug "The Thug" Glatt and his
unlikely journey to becoming an on ice tough guy.
There is an underlining knuckleheaded sweetness to this lug, even
though his role as a fighter occupies one of the uglier aspects of the
sport of hockey.
Yet, both GOON films are opting to be uplifting inspirational
sports films, and their wanton celebration of its chief enforcer - a
controversial position in the game - sends the wrong mixed messages on
yeah...these films are aiming for the aggressively potty mouthed vulgarity
and raunchy charm that made, say, SLAP SHOT such a genre favorite four
decades ago. However, as I
alluded to in my review of GOON, maybe what was once amusing in the past
about hockey fighters has no longer become a laughing matter.
In the wake of recent developments over the last decade of many
prominent NHL goons all conspicuously dying young - which can easily be linked to their years of participating in hockey as fighters - I find it
decidedly hard to laugh with these films' mixture of scatological
shenanigans and ultra violent, blood spewing fisticuffs.
With so many past NHLers suffering from the traumatic side effects
of encephalopathy (caused by frequent head trauma), leaving their lives
the balance...is Doug Glatt a worthy figure of movie hero worship?
GOON and GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS celebrates and places Dougie
on an awfully high pedestal...which left a bad taste in mouth.
this film's warped ethical compass is not my main misgiving with it.
GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS suffers - as do most comedy sequels -
in the sense that it believes that upping the ante for crudeness is a
recipe for success. First
time director Jay Baruchel - a smart actor and writer that has
demonstrated good creative instincts in past films, whom also co-wrote and
starred in the first GOON - doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on a
here. When the film isn't
going out of its way to be unnecessarily crass it throws up laughably
unrealistic and savagely gory hockey fights (more on that in a bit)
followed by formulaic subplots involving Doug trying to acclimatize
himself to a post-hockey retirement life that are as paint-by-numbers as
they get. Worse yet is that
any semblance of consistent laughs are largely vacant in this sports
"comedy," which does no one any favors.
LAST OF THE ENFORCERS picks up shortly after the events of the first film
by showcasing Doug (Seann William Scott) cement his immense popularity with
both fans and fellow teammates alike as part of the Halifax Highlanders
(great name, BTW), so much so that he's been granted team captaincy.
Just as things are looking on the up and up for Doug, a new steely
eyed enforcer appears in the form of Andres (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt),
whose menacing frame and predilection for rule breaking and merciless pummeling
of his opponents makes him a frightening presence.
Predictably, Doug faces off against Andres early on in the film to
defend his team's honor, but is so maliciously beaten that he's forced to
retire from the game altogether. I've
watched many hockey games and fights in my 42 years on the planet and
never has blood flowed so readily as it does during GOON's almost
cartoonishly visceral donnybrooks.
decides that he must turn to respectful and gainful employment to provide
for his wife Eva (Allison Pill) and their baby-to-be, so he takes a lowly
job as an insurance salesmen. Of
course, much like a very famous silver screen pugilist from Philadelphia,
Doug soon understands that he must abandon his day job, return to the
sport he loves, re-find his "eye of the tiger," and regain some
of his lost enforcer mojo. After
a chance meeting with an old nemesis, Ross "The Boss" Rhea (Liev
Schreiber, infinitely better than the material he's given here), during
which time he saw the old timer participating in an underground hockey fight circuit,
Doug decides to team with his former goon enemy so that Ross can whip him back
into shape for an unavoidable re-match with Andres.
since AMERICAN PIE Seann William Scott has ostensibly been typecast into
playing one variation of his agreeably moronic Stiffler character in film
after film, but one of the silver linings in both GOON films is that he's
deceptively good and charming at playing this man-child hockey fighter
that has clearly taken one too many blows to the cranium.
He also still has palpable lived-in chemistry with co-star Allison
Pill, and the pair do make for fairly winning duo.
Liev Schreiber brings considerable pedigree and class to GOON: LAST
OF THE ENFORCERS as his fairly classless, but not lacking in a code Ross.
He facilitates this sequel's Apollo Creed/Rocky Balboa arc from ROCKY
III in terms of segueing from a heel in GOON 1 to a mentor here for
Doug. Out of all of the
characters presented throughout, Schrieber's seems like the only one that
has any authentic level of world weary and melancholic weight.
There's a whole other film to be made out of how Ross pathetically
devolves into fighting for cash to make ends meet...seeing as that was the
only thing he did well in hockey.
for a film about hockey that's written and directed by a self professed
hockey fan and Canadian, GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS never really seems to
plausibly relay the action on the ice.
Baruchel is aiming for gritty verisimilitude, but instead the ultra violent on-ice fights presented are so bathed in what I'm
assuming are CGI geysers of sweat and blood that you'd think you're
watching a video game match in MORTAL KOMBAT. This, most likely, has to do with Baruchel's untested and
undisciplined skills as a director, notwithstanding his unfortunately
willingness to play most scenes in the film as broadly as possible (he
also returns as Doug's unfathomably offensive friend that's about as
endearing as fingernails on a chalkboard).
His script also fails to find any real novelty in Doug's
predicament (attempts at would-be uproarious office satire featuring his
pride suffocating salesmen job are DOA), not to mention that he delegates
the film's main
female character into woefully stereotypical concerned pregnant wife
at home clichés that hit every obligatory dramatic and comedic beat.
The overall arc of Doug trying to retire, go legit and respectable,
only to later risk his life by returning to the dangerous sport he covets
while his beleaguered wife anxiously looks on offers next to no
surprises. GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS is on pure autopilot for its
already long 101 minutes.
And then we are left with another climax here that, yet again, succumbs to the unsavory level of legitimizing the gallant worth of Doug as a noble minded and team honor bound force for good in the game. I felt pity and concern for Doug as he turned his enemy's face into Swiss Cheese while having his own caved in, but GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS is so egregiously taken in with its "hero" and his misplaced worth and legitimacy as a hockey brute that it becomes kind of embarrassingly cringe-worthy to watch. Too many real life hockey fighters, as mentioned, have become unhealthy poster boys for how their roles in the game have perpetrated irreparable harm on their well being. Beyond being shapelessly and derivatively scripted, chronically unfunny, and obtrusively profane, this "feel good" sports comedy simply feels more horribly antiquated and misguided than it does inspirational. GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS is not only an unnecessary sequel, but a mostly unwatchable one as a result.