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Goon

A comic celebration of hockey violence slips and slides

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If you just want to hear a hundred iterations of the f-word and see some bloody teeth skittering across the ice in slow motion, you'll likely love this comic celebration of hockey violence from Michael Dowse. In it, a dim bulb of a bruiser named Doug (Seann Scott William) is recruited by a Canadian minor-league hockey team to be its goon. His job: to protect the team's dissolute "star" player, now returning from a crippling hit from another goon that benched him for years (not quite so funny here in Pittsburgh).

It's the film's awkward mix of celebrating violence — we cheer for Doug to become a face-smashing star — and raucous comedy that makes it feel a bit misguided. Yes, comparisons to the hockey-goon-classic Slapshot will be made, but that 1977 film had what this frequently puerile exercise lacks: a dark center that was broader than the on-ice action. But the thinly scripted Goon skirts every opportunity to make a meatier black comedy, whether it's making Doug so dumb that he lacks any self-awareness, or failing to mine any real tension between athletic competition and violence.

There are some laughs — Doug's ragtag teammates are funny, and Eugene Levy portrays Doug's horrified dad — but too often, profanity substitutes for wit. The film was penned by Jay Baruchel (She's Out of My League), who co-stars as Doug's manic, hockey-obsessed buddy. He was so strenuously unfunny that I found myself wishing that somebody would just pummel him into silence.

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