Goon: Last of the Enforcers

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  Goon:  Last of the Enforcers
 

Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) is on the top of the world when made captain of his beloved Halifax Highlanders. But, during his last brawl on ice, his hitting arm is badly injured and the hockey player must face retirement…and a job as an insurance salesman. He plays his last card and enlists the help of his old nemesis, Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Shreiber), to get back in the game in “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”

Robin:
Everyone (well, many people) fell hard for the lovable, good-natured enforcer Doug Glatt when he began his career in “Goon (2011).” That was such a feel good film with its likable characters, especially Seann William Scott, and action on ice, a sequel was inevitable. Of course, the word “sequel” brings shivers to a film critic – name one that was equal. (Do not try to say “Godfather II.” That film is in its own stratosphere.)

Still, Doug Glatt is such a nice guy with the rare ability to give and take a punch that you still root for him. Early on in “Goon 2,” Doug’s great life as a rising hockey star is abruptly ended by opposing team enforcer Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), whose father, Hyrum (Callum Keith Rennie), owns the Highlanders)  To round out life’s pressures, his wife Eva (Allison Pill) breaks the news that he is going to be a dad. Life as he knew it – the excitement of the game, the camaraderie of his teammates, and the adoration of the fans – is over.

Doug suffers through with his job as “insurance specialist,” telling Eva that it is fun with “documents, all the documents, and phone calls.” Of course, it is not. Adding to his woes is the news that his arch nemesis, Anders Cain, has been recruited by his beloved Highlanders – and is made team captain! Things look bleak for poor Doug.

Then, he has an epiphany: learn to fight left handed. So, who does he go to for help? None other than Ross Rhea, now retired from the game and who makes a buck putting up his dukes for “Bruised and Battered” competitions, taking on other oldies from the game. This begins a montage of Doug training, he and Eva getting ready for the new baby, and Anders Cain pushing the Highlanders to last place. You can guess exactly what happens in this underdog comeback feel good movie.

As I said, it is rare for a sequel to equal or better the original but, what I hope for, is that the follow-up effort can stand on its own. It has been six years since “Goon” came out so “Goon 2” has the advantage that we know all and are comfortable with the colorful characters. What we get is a jump forward in Doug’s life where, since we know and really like him, we are vested in what happens.

There are no real surprises in Jay Baruchel’s directing debut but the familiar and likable cast of characters and lots of (violent and bloody) hockey action help “Goon 2” stand on its own. I give it a positive C+.

Laura:
Just after Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott, "Goon") is made captain of the Halifax Highlanders, much to the chagrin of aging top scorer Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin, "Goon"), new team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie, "Born To Be Blue") forces his son, Anders (a scarily psychopathic Wyatt Russell, "Ingrid Goes West") onto Coach Ronnie Hortense's (Kim Coates, "Goon") roster. During their first game together, Anders challenges his own teammate, breaking Dougie's stick before the puck drops, then beating him to a pulp.  With a baby on the way with his wife Eva (Alison Pill, "Goon"), Dougie tries the 9 to 5 life, but a run in with his old nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber, "Goon") makes him realize his heart still belongs to the Highlanders in "Goon: Last of the Enforcers."

After cowriting the original, producer/cowriter (with Jesse Chabot) Jay Baruchel makes his feature directorial debut with the sequel.  He also returns to the role of Dougie's best friend Pat along with most of the original cast.  This time around, although we still get plenty of hockey action, the film's theme is fatherhood.  Eva's a lot more nervous about Dougie being on the ice now that they're expecting, Doug turns to his father figure Ross for help while Hyrum and Anders have their own relationship issues.

After the delightfully dim Dougie hangs up his hockey skates, he begins work under Cornwallis Insurance's equally befuddled Bob Forbes (Jason Jones, "Chuck"), who instructs him in the criminal activities going on in the alley that looks down upon Dougie's basement office window before advising him that insurance is all about passing documents on to the next guy.  Dougie tells Eva he loves his new job, but clearly yearning for his glory days makes up a story about an insurance convention as a cover to go to a 'Bruise and Batter' event, a Hockey Tournament whose only rule is 'no hockey.'  It's there he sees Ross, one of the competitors in what's best described as the WWE for former hockey enforcers.  Approaching Ross after the matches, he asks if he can train him to punch with his left fist, his right shoulder having been injured by Anders.

Meanwhile the Halifax Highlanders are sliding in the rankings with Anders as their new team captain, who has alienated everyone while scoring far more penalties than points.  When the coach declares Anders unfit to lead the team, Hyrum, who's seen Dougie at a Bruise bout, surprises everyone by suggesting they bring him back.

There's a ton of raunchy humor both inside and outside the rink.  With Eva pregnant, Elisha Cuthbert's (TV's '24,' "The Girl Next Door") on hand for drunken hijinx as Eva's bestie Mary.  Jones is a lunatic office foil for Scott (his parting shot is extended in the hilarious closing credit bloopers).  A Sports Desk TV team gives comic T.J. Miller a platform for ad-libbing clueless riffs.  But the most fun is to be had in the locker room where Russian brothers Evgeni (George Tchortov, "Goon") and Oleg (Karl Graboshas, "Goon") continue their raunchy harangues against Gord Ogilvey (Richard Clarkin, "Goon") and Marco Belchior (Jonathan Cherry, "Goon") while new non-English speaking Slavic goalie Petr Petrov (Nathan Dales) tries to make friends with his bag of hard candies.

Baruchel's not as adept as his predecessor at staging extreme on ice violence for laughs, this time around much of it coming across as flinch inducing brutality, but he stages some great on ice action and most of the laughs land, a gag involving Dougie dipping into the opposing goalie's Gatorade particularly inspired.  Of course you just know Eva will go into labor at an inopportune time for the Halifax Highlanders, but Baruchel uses the obvious for some sweet hockey twists. (Hockey fans be on the lookout for Dallas Stars' (and former Boston) Bruin Tyler Seguin and the Vancouver Canucks' Michael Del Zotto as opposing players.)

Grade:  B-
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