A film review by Craig J. Koban September 13, 2017


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.  

Both 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 multiple fronts.   

Yeah, 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 hanging in 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.   



Having said that, 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 cohesive tone 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. 

GOON: 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.   

Doug 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. 

Ever 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. 

Oddly, 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. 

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