"You have my respect. Whatever that means to you, you got it. But, know this shit hard. If ever there comes a time when it gets down to the marrow, and it's you and me. Kid, I will lay you the fuck out."
Goon is my favorite hockey film, the greatest of all time. Yeah, deal with it Slapshot addicts. I like that OTHER film about the minor league hockey circuit, minus a 52 year old Paul Newman.
All this John Scott euphoria and it got me thinking of Ross "The Boss" Rhea, Doug Glatt, Gord Ogilvey, Xavier LaFlamme, Ronnie Hortense and Marco Belchier. It got me thinking of enforcers. Guys who aren't supposed to be recognized but bleed for the league anyway until they can't fight anymore.
Like Bull Durham(my fav baseball film), Goon shined a spotlight on the bittersweet minor league life while posing as a comedy. Sure, it was hilarious, but there was poetry in between the lines. The group of misfits on the team. The struggle to make it to the show. LaFlamme could be a fictional Jonathan Drouin, something with skill but lacking the space to make it happen. Glatt is just a guy who could punch. At once, Goon is wickedly cinematic, hilarious but also a little sad.
It is Schreiber's best work, and the man has been in some great films. He taped his fingers in salute to Bob Probert, and imbues Rhea with a wise adage to go with the long hair, facial hair and "Who Gives a Fuck" aggression. He's an old lion looking for one last fight. The entire film, you wait and wait for his clash with Seann William Scott's Glatt like you would a heavyweight boxing fight. It's inevitable. The older fighter being ushered out by the younger enforcer.
How about Richard Clarkin'ss aging captain, Gord? The guy is an alcoholic mid 40's hockey player going through a divorce but he sure can fire up his team.
"You know what's hard work? Going through a divorce. She's trying to get all my money now. She can have half. I don't give a shit. The other half...hard work. Mine. Some guys on their team are divorced. Three guys. Their marriages are in the toilet."
How about the lovably insane Percocet popping goaltender, Belchier who has a picture of his mom on his mask? Whenever I see Brian Elliott or Jake Allen tap their goal posts before a big faceoff, I think of Belchier tapping his posts and saying, "Come on Siegfried. Come on Roy."
What if John Kelly got as excited as Halifax Highlanders play by play guy Rod McCaudrey after a win? "That's the first win in a month! I'm gonna go crack some champagne and make love to my old lady! It'll be the first time, the best time, in a long time! "
Kim Coates' ruthless hockey coach is a classic! Before he was Tig on Sons of Anarchy, Coates played a helluva coach. Imagine him behind the bench for the Blues yelling at Patrik Berglund and Magnus Paajarvi to stop being soft as shit and play hard or sit the fuck down for Reaves.
"And for those of you who think you've got no practice tomorrow. 6 AM, bag skate pussies! I wanna see every single one of you work your fucking asses off until you puke your guts out! This is not fucking Baseball! Do you wanna make the playoffs or not? Goddamnit."
Goon is 92 minutes of greatness and has all the classy nods towards the long winters grind of the game as any other film while being just a great movie as well. For many, Slapshot is the holy grail of hockey cinema life and that's perfectly fine. It's up there for me too. Goon is just more polished and carries a few more laughs without losing its hockey IQ.
Imagine Rhea telling a 23 year old Scott this at a fictional diner years ago...
"Kid, you got this thing. The stuff. The shit. The fuckin' grit, you got it, like me. But like me, that's all you fuckin' got. And like me, you're no good to anyone doing anything else. All I'm saying is don't go trying to be a hockey player. You'll get your fuckin' heart ripped out."
In the end, Gary Bettman should have watched Goon before he and his office of hack fucks shit on Scott's parade and are now deemed shit turds for life. Get smart, Gary!
Oh and Goon (2) : Last of the Enforcers comes out later this year with the same writing team attached. Michael Del Zotto and Tyler Seguin, following George Laraque in the original, will have cameos.