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Character development? That comes later for Goon, a film finding itself more enriched via blood splattered ice and enamored by being a master of irresponsible language. Maybe it’s not that shocking. Part of Goon was penned by Evan Goldberg who introduced a generation of high schoolers who were equally appalling in Superbad.
Still, Goon doesn’t even allow time to process one vaginal reference before rushing to the next. It’s almost in desperation that lines sputter out before the next edit, crunched to ensure the world knows of its urine-oriented audacity. It’s clearly crucial dialogue, as if this movie has any other than what is spoken by Sean William Scott.
He’s the enforcer of no-name hockey team, pulled onto the squad after a bleacher brawl ignited the mind of a local coach. Scott has no fuse as roughneck Doug Glatt. He explodes whether the wick is lit or not. The thing is, he’s a nice guy. In-between all of the penis references, there’s a person raised as sincere, thanking his on-ice opponents for the opportunity to engage in a round of fisticuffs.
Nothing grounds him. His religious backdrop is there more or less as a riff on the Jewish culture, and a quirky love interest wide-eyed up by Alison Pill is only there for something resembling a reality base. Goon, despite being played up as a true story (that of minor leaguer Doug Smith), exists in its own corner of the hockey world. Referees don’t dictate when fights end, the players do. The movie has more punches than a typical Rocky sequel.
It’s almost a shame too because Goon has a keen eye for hockey. Blips of ice-level photography, aggressive shoulder cams, and glancing center ice tracks are wonderful in their execution, excusing a bout of shaky editing in spots. The sport is tough to keep in motion, so all can be forgiven.
You cannot possibly look at Goon and mistake it for a hockey film though. Sure, there’s ice time and it’s not even 10-minutes in until that montage begins splashing across the screen. But, it’s a dumb, burly flick that takes the classic hockey sentiment to heart: “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” In actuality, that’s how Goon is structured, but don’t worry, the final shot is a bloody tooth clanging on the ice. It leaves its world just like it came in – fighting.
The image coming from this AVC encode has an immediate visual allure, a glossy, brilliant clarity that attracts your eye and holds it there. Aliasing that works into the piece from time to time cannot overtake the videos inherent picture window-like effect. Not a frame of this piece goes by with any noise or other infraction that removes it from an equal level.
Nothing is perfect, the Red One impressive here in close, and dull as things pan back. It’s always that bothersome mid-range for some reason. It’s such a shame, because there are dazzling pans of crowded small town arenas loaded with people, all of them perfectly resolved. A few establishing shots soar too, cities looking outstanding against vivid orange backdrops.
Even if the texture tends to lose its way, there’s a contrast to back it up. Part of that is allowing the vividness of the ice and those stadium lights, pinging off the whites or other colors on the jerseys. Even when overblown, it never seems to lose focus. It feels like a natural by-product of the environment. Colors have a chilled density that, like almost everything else, is a joy to view.
That “almost everything” has another villain beyond the smooth textures and ever so minor aliasing. Black levels are an impediment to perfection, requiring help they’ll never receive. They tend to flatten out when needed most, leaving the piece dull and faded, almost aged in a way. It’s odd to see a fresh production actually resemble the murky, often low-grade film stock of its hockey counterpart Slap Shot. That’s exactly what Goon will do on occasion though.
This movie loves punches, livening them up with vicious, hardened bass that sells each and every blow. If you don’t think you could feel a simple punch amidst hundreds of screaming fans, Goon will make you believe that you can. Ditto for the mountain of bold, brutal shots into the boards. Hearing a skull fracture makes for a great time, albeit an uncomfortable one.
Even when its waist deep in brawls, there’s no loss of atmosphere. The crowd is riotous when games get tight in the closing moments or the gloves are dropped. Small stadium atmosphere is definitely alive on this disc. Dialogue seats itself in the center, stubborn to move elsewhere. It also carries the tendency to die out a bit in the mix, particularly some of the low key romantic stuff, but it’s negligible.
Director Michael Dowse and actor/writer Jay Baruchel deliver a commentary track for their work, with detailed behind-the-scenes clips filling in the blanks, cut up into 40 sections (!) called Power Play totaling just shy of 45-minutes. A short outtake reel is marginal, as are 10-minutes of deleted scenes. A half-hour interview with Sean William Scott and Baruchel carries over into an HDNet promo. Screen tests for the goalie role and an in-character piece with Baruchel detailing fighting techniques are only so-so in terms of their viewing value.
The time spent creating digital Goon hockey cards though? Totally worth it. It’s a shame there’s not a physical pack inside the case. Magnolia caps the disc with some trailers.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.