In a post-Netflix world, a film's box office numbers often don't reflect its sheer value among fans. Increasingly diverse methods of consumption have created new ways to find new content, and few films of the 2010s epitomize that idea more than 2011's Goon. The cult classic hockey comedy has developed a rabid, under-the-radar fan base since its initial debut (thanks in large part to its boost by streaming services), leaving fans wondering if Jay Baruchel's Goon: Last of the Enforcers can recapture that same magic six years later. Luckily, the franchise treatment fits like a well-worn glove, and Goon: Last of the Enforcers is an incredibly welcome (albeit sometimes uneven) return to a violent and vulgar but ultimately heartwarming world.
Six years have passed since dim-witted Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) rose to stardom in the world of semi-professional hockey as an enforcer for the Highlanders. He has earned the adoration of his teammates, the fans, and his now pregnant wife Eva (Alison Pill). However, when unhinged up-and-comer Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) hits the ice and nails Doug with a potentially career-ending injury, the enforcer turns to former rival Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him to adapt to the fact that he's neither the hockey player, nor the man, that he once was.
Let's get the biggest question out of the way right off the bat. Is Goon: Last of the Enforcers as good as the original? The answer to that question is no, but with the added caveat that this sequel is one of the few comedy follow-ups that honors the original and continues the story in a logical and emotionally resonant way. Jay Baruchel's story tackles real themes of age, responsibility, and family in a way that one wouldn't necessarily expect from a sports comedy, and I found myself struck by the number of times Last of the Enforcers tugged at my heartstrings as much as it tickled my funny bone. Everyone involved leaves it on the ice, and the final few minutes of the film offers one of the deeper and more emotionally complex endings for a comedy in recent memory.
The reason this works so well ultimately boils down to the fact that Goon: Last of the Enforcers is full of familiar characters (pretty much the entire cast of the original returns to some degree) that you want to spend time with. Seann William Scott continues to play against the frat boy persona that defined the earlier years of his career with his performance as Doug Glatt, and the decision continues to pay off. He imbues the character with such an "aww shucks" likability, and his relationship with Eva continues to anchor the character and prevent him from becoming a cartoon. Neither dark nor cynical, Doug is simply the type of do-good hero that some people need in 2017.
An avalanche of sports movie clichés admittedly does most of the film's heavy lifting for it, but that's not inherently a bad thing if those clichés are handled correctly. Goon is already equal parts parody and subversion of a typical sports movie, so it only makes sense for Goon: Last of the Enforcers to lean on the clichés of sports movie sequels to inform its story. Seann William Scott has even admitted that the Rocky franchise served as a primary source of inspiration for the film, so we can't entirely fault Last of the Enforcers for wearing its influences on its sleeve.
Of course, in the process of adhering to these clichés, telling a new story, and bringing back most of the original ensemble, some folks get lost in the shuffle. In particular, I found myself disappointed by the endlessly charismatic Liev Schreiber's relegation to secondary status in the story, as his Apollo Creed-esque turn as Ross is one of the highlights of this new film.
That's not to say that Goon: Last of the Enforcers isn't packed to the brim with every imaginable degree of raunchy comedy; some of which works, and some of which doesn't. This is a film that knows it wants an R-rating, and it seems intent on earning that label at every turn. Pretty much every bodily fluid in the book gets a joke in this movie. If you're the type of person who will laugh at homeless people doling out hand jobs, Mary (Elisha Cuthbert) talking about how much booze it would take for her to hook up with another woman, or standup comedian T.J. Miller delivering an unprompted explanation that "we're all pink on the inside," then this sequel's humor will work for you.
That said, some of these jokes can eventually wear thin. The reputation of T.J. Miller's sportscaster character can eventually grow somewhat tiresome, and some of the film's more tasteless jokes (particularly ones delivered by Baruchel's Pat) can feel more like they're aiming to fill a cuss quota than serving the story. Beyond that, if you're not already inclined to enjoy this particular brand of raunchy humor, then you're likely better off steering clear of Goon altogether. This is a movie that knows its audience, and it plays to that specific niche. Either you're part of it, or you aren't.
If you're in the market for buckets of blood, non-stop cussing, and a good, old-fashioned sports story, then this film (mostly) delivers. Goon: Last of the Enforcers is a rare sequel that gets bloody fighting to earn its existence. With heart and laughs aplenty, its' a big win and one of 2017's best comedies.
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