This unambitious, decently helmed low-budgeted sports film, as well as high-spirited romantic comedy sees a floundering Sean William Scott (reprising his smarmily crude Stifler soon in American Reunion) making his best impression since Role Models, at least in a leading role. One that is treated with more fair-mindedness than Scott usually gets, even in smaller throwaway parts as in Cop Out.
Goon, broadly drawn from actual events involving Doug Glatt (who gets some good exposure during the final credits scroll), played with a certain amount of charm by a less smart-alecky Scott, also features Eugene Levy (his old American Pie series costar), as well as Liev Schreiber and Alison Pill.
Doug's family isn't proud of his decision to work as a bouncer, especially Levy's Dr. Glatt, but the doltish fellow makes the most of his penchant for roughhousing, not that he's really an enraged nutcase who should seek counseling or anger management . An altercation with a hockey player at a rink goes viral and soon enough he becomes the titular enforcer for minor league hockey's Halifax Highlanders though with very limited skating experience.
Michael Dowse, for the most part, modulates the tone well enough to make most of the gags rarely seem obtrusive, navigating between the sweet and coarse, including some rough on-ice action. Bickering occurs with conflicted star teammate Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), but Doug's very aggressive style somehow lifts (perhaps better than what the coaching has to offer) the Highlanders out of their losing ways.
The dramatically deficient and slender scripting with occasional uproarious crude line-readings from actor Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg (who shared writing duties with Seth Rogen on Superbad) has Doug falling for hockey fan Eva, an adorably self-effacing, if underhanded Pill (who was good in Woody Allen's well-written Midnight in Paris). As Halifax begins to gain notice around the league, Doug's influential status gravitates to a showdown with a longtime notorious hooligan in the sport, Schreiber's Ross Rhea.
What stands out in Goon (which needs plenty of word-of-mouth to attract a wider audience) is the ease in empathizing with Doug, and that's attributed to the way a good-natured Scott relates to the writing and the intent of Dowse not to candy-coat Glatt. An amusing Pill doesn't clash with the usually quick-witted, crass actor to elevate their on-screen rapport. Though the filmmakers apparently don't mind neglecting Doug's home life, it senses the conflict and confrontations with enough aplomb, even if it doesn't emotionally connect nearly when "The Thug" is protecting and taking out the opposition on the ice.