Goon: Last of the Enforcers Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up out of nowhere and proved to be a smart and funny hit. Sadly, this sequel kind of misses the point of what made the first movie such a favourite: it opts to focus on corny gross-out gags rather than humour that’s firmly rooted in the characters and story. And it also turns people who were complex and surprising into one-note cliches.

After five years, the beloved dimwit Doug (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of his Halifax hockey team, just as he meets his match in the shape of bullish newcomer Anders (Wyatt Russell), who happens to be the son of Doug’s new team owner Hiram (Callum Keith Rennie). Sidelined by injury and with his wife Eva (Alison Pill) pregnant, he decides to retire and get a real job, no matter how soul-crushing it may be. But when Hiram makes Anders the new team captain, Doug can’t sit by quietly any longer. To get back in shape, he turns to his former arch-rival Ross (Liev Schreiber), and they opt to train on the Bruised & Battered circuit, which features hockey fights without the game itself. Then when the team gets in trouble, they want Doug back.

Of course, what follows is a series of confrontations that are never as surprising as they should be. Instead, they are merely staged to provide a mix of violent thuggery in the rink tempered by some emotional fireworks at home. But the humour is never more than cartoonish, and the emotions are far too sentimental to believe. Characters feel soft and oddly safe for a film that needs to be a lot more anarchic. All of the lusty sex is gone, replaced with violence and macho posturing. At least the cast members still give it their all.

Scott is so likeable that we can’t help but root for him to sort out all of his problems, even if they feel like cheesy movie plots rather than real life issues. Russell is an entertaining foil, even if Anders never has much depth to him. Schreiber is welcome in his slight role, but Pill’s character has turned from feisty and outrageous to the standard annoyed girl back home. Adding directing to his cowriting and costarring tasks, Jay Baruchel keeps things lively and colourful. But fans of the original movie will be badly disappointed that it never even tries to push the characters further into their messy, happy lives.