Goon - DVD Review

'unlike your garden variety RomCom, and very much like the rest of the film, the romance opts for the 'non-standard' and winds up finding something much more believably human'

A surprisingly affable goofball Sports Comedy, Goon is both made and nearly ruined by Jay Baruchel. Baruchel has crew credits as producer and writer but has also clearly written himself a part in his own script, showing up as comedy relief best friend Ryan to Sean William Scott's main man, Doug. Ryan is neither, so far as it is possible to tell, very funny nor a 'friend' to Doug, nor is it ever a 'relief' to see him. Instead, he's one of those annoying movie presences who swears constantly in the mistaken belief that quantity of profanities will eventually raise a laugh. It doesn't, he doesn't and his constant reappearances threaten to tip Goon into the realms of Fratboy Lark, something which it clearly is not.

The fact that it is not that is down largely, surprisingly, to Scott who, this time, keeps things rooted in the realistic foibles of his not-so-learned protagonist. Scott has a long history of playing the dummy but this plus his impressive straight outing in Southland Tales show he can have more to him when given the chance. Doug isn't a Stifler, played loud and long for laughs, instead he's a guy genuinely concerned with his intellect, trying, against the tide, to better himself in small ways. Witness his attempted romancing of Eva (Alison Pill) which involves him buying her the holy trinity of first date gifts (flowers, chocolates, cuddly toy) all in one go. Doug's mental ability isn't played on by Scott or director Michael Dowse for long, broad laughs, it is played on for heart.

Even more surprisingly than this is the length the film goes to to add depth of theme and 'issues' to its overtly comic main strand. In fratboy stuff, 'fag' would be thrown round as an insult by the protagonist with reckless abandon. In this, Doug gets into a fight with someone to try and stop them from using it as an insult. Look closely when we get a glimpse at Doug's phonebook too. It's surprisingly empty. There's something here about the lonely furrow ploughed by the lowly sportsman - just look at how many genuine 'friends' the rest of the team have too - but its perhaps too subtle and whether that message can resonate in today's economic climate is suspect.

What does have a chance of resonating more is the non-Hollywood-standard romance between imperfect Eva (sample chat-up line: 'you make me wanna stop sleeping with a bunch of guys') and our sharp-as-a-tack main man (sample response: 'that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me'). Unlike your garden variety RomCom, and very much like the rest of the film, this opts for the 'non-standard' and winds up finding something much more believably human.

Watch too for Dowse's 'failure', in Hollywood terms, to include the standard piece of redemption and recompense for the people who become Doug's antagonists. Unheard of in stock plots across the land. Goon ends up as a film that breaks plenty of teeth but also manages to break a few elements of the mould whilst its at it. Infinitely more impressive than it could have been.

Goon is out on DVD in the UK on Monday 4th June.

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'On the surface, Goon is an assembly-line underdog sports movie. And yes the film hits a handful of familiar story beats along the way. But there is a subtle intelligence to the picture, with characters that are far less broad than you'd expect and a screenplay that feels authentic.' - Mendelson's Memos, B+

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