The original Goon (2011) was a special thing: an indie sports-comedy that was funny without being over-the-top, and heartfelt without being outright cheesy. It was also indisputably Canadian without relying on stereotypes or clichés. The film made the audience care about Doug (Seann William Scott), a dim-witted but kind bouncer from Massachusetts who uses his better-than-average brawling skills to become a professional enforcer for a minor-league hockey team in Halifax. We were invested in his journey and in his developing relationship with Eva (Alison Pill).
In Goon: Last of the Enforcers, six years have passed since the events of the previous film. Eva and Doug have since gotten married and are expecting their first child. Doug has been made captain of the Halifax Highlanders, and his career and personal life are perfect until he suffers an injury on the ice.
Last of the Enforcers is an enjoyable sports movie with some genuine laughs and well-executed action. It is obvious that most of the film’s effort and budget have been put toward the fight scenes, which glorify the violence of the sport. The blood and gore have been turned up to “eleven” and, while the action is fun, it does feel a little shallow especially when one considers that it was clever dialogue and a competently-written plot that really made the first film shine.
By contrast, this sequel throws the viewer right into the action and half-baked storyline without bothering to re-establish its characters or their relationships. Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-André Grondin), a character whose development was largely responsible for driving the storyline of Goon, doesn’t really get a whole lot to do or say this time around. Similarly, Doug’s best friend Pat (played by director/co-writer Jay Baruchel) is little more than a parody of the character that appeared in the first film. Considering that six years has supposedly passed between the films, it would have been nice to see some more development in characters besides Eva and Doug.
This is Baruchel’s first attempt at directing a feature-length film, and while Last of the Enforcers fares better than most comedy sequels it lacks the heart of Goon. There is a lot of untapped potential in the premise of Doug, Eva, and the other characters navigating the challenges of their changing lives and responsibilities. Maintaining a career despite injuries and coming to terms with an aging body that can no longer perform as it used to are hurdles that all athletes encounter. Unfortunately, this film never really sinks its teeth into the material at its disposal. Opting, instead, for over-the-top violence and dirty humour that leaves this film with a plot about maturing and growing up ironically lacking the maturity of its predecessor.
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