Back in 2012, I saw and reviewed a little independent film called Goon, an ice hockey comedy with a ton of heart that easily joined the ranks of one of my favorite sports films. Over the years the film had spread quietly, winning sports film fans over with relative ease and in that time we would occasionally hear rumblings from co-screenwriter Jay Baruchel that a sequel would come eventually. Well, that time is now!
This past weekend saw the release of Goon: Last of the Enforcers with co-screenwriter Mr. Baruchel making his directorial debut. The film takes place during a pro hockey lockout that brings a bunch of professional players down to the B-league. This results in a vicious player, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) joining the league and who destroys our protagonist, Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott), in a fight. He also just happens to be psychotic the son of the new owner of the Halifax Highlanders. With a baby underway with his wife Eva and one too many injuries, Doug is forced to hang up his skates but he can only handle life away the rink for so long. With his Highlanders falling apart, Doug teams up with an old foe in an attempt to improve his game and come back to the rink to protect the other family that he loves so dearly.
Goon: Last of the Enforcers is a bit of a mixed bag. It contains many elements of the first film that made it great, but it’s structured and delivered in a way that doesn’t allow the film to truly resonate with audiences as much. It brings in the underdog aspect once again, which is fine to help propel the dramatic portions of the film, but when it ups the ante with the psycho rival with daddy issues who is forced to be over the top, that’s when the film loses a little steam. Not to mention that there are scenes that are unnecessarily raunchy and just don’t fit the mold of the film (I’m looking at you Doug’s insurance boss, T.J. Miller’s sportscaster [though it started funny], and Jay Baruchel’s return as Pat).
The film’s heart and humor came from Doug and his team, but when he’s not around the Highlanders we start caring less about them. The only time we really get a good laugh without Doug is when the Eastern European players chime in with their ridiculous teasing or offerings of candy. As for Doug, the humor from his lack of intelligence just doesn’t hit the mark this go-around as it did in the first film. Maybe it was the jokes or maybe it was the schtick itself, but it was rare that Doug’s dialogue made me smile the way it did originally.
Goon 2 is such a passion project for Baruchel and that’s why I really wanted it to succeed, especially since he decided to direct, but that didn’t pan out the way I would have liked. The man loves hockey and this character so at least I’m able to give him props for great hockey action sequences and getting Liev Schreiber to be a moustache donning Canadian again. He also managed to make a decent film overall, it just doesn’t pack the same emotional punch that his original film did when he teamed up with Michael Dowse and Evan Goldberg.
On the whole, Goon: Last of the Enforcers doesn’t live up to the greatness of the original, but I give it a B+ effort for trying. Most of the elements are there, but the pieces just don’t fall into place the way they should. That being said, if you liked the first one, you should still give this one a watch, just don’t feel obligated to do it right away.