Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 27, 2021)
Though 2011’s Goon enjoyed next to no audiences during its theatrical run, I guess it found an audience on home TVs. How else to explain the existence of 2017’s Goon: Last of the Enforcers, a direct-to-video sequel?
In the first film, underachiever Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) finds his niche as a brawler for a minor league hockey team. He also meets and falls in love with Eva (Alison Pill).
Now married and with a baby on the way, too many concussions send Doug away from hockey and into a job as an insurance salesman. However, actions related to a strike bring Doug back to the Halifax Highlanders.
This doesn’t please Eva, but Doug gets into action again. Trained by former rival Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber), Doug strives to revive his career and keep the Highlanders intact.
Essentially a 21st century update of 1977’s Slap Shot, the first Goon never excelled. Nonetheless, it offered an enjoyable little comedy, one highlighted by a surprisingly earnest turn from Scott.
He came to fame as the crass, obnoxious Stifler from the American Pie flicks, and he wound up typecast after that. Goon allowed Scott to show a different side, and it worked.
Last does nothing to expand that trend. While the film allows Scott to reprise the themes from the first Goon, he seems to be on cruise control, possibly because the movie itself lacks the heart and purpose of its predecessor.
Best-known as an actor, Jay Baruchel co-wrote the original film, and he does the same here. However, he also makes his directorial debut via Last.
Baruchel doesn’t seem up to the task, as he shows no feel for the gig. He wants to tell a story of maturity and growth but his heart doesn’t really appear to be in it.
While the first Goon brought personal evolution, it presented these moments in a light manner that charmed and mixed well with the more wacky comedy. Last takes itself more seriously, which means the occasional stabs at outrageous gags feel out of place.
It’s like Baruchel knows fans want the same kind of laughs from the prior flick so he attempts to throw them a bone, but he really prefers to tell a serious character tale. Baruchel keeps one foot in each camp, and this creates an erratic, unconvincing story.
Doug’s tale just doesn’t work, and a parallel narrative about Doug’s rival Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) becomes an odd albatross. The movie hints at psychological complexity, as we see Anders as a mental mess desperate to please his dad, team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie).
Early in the film, we learn that Anders’ violent bravado exists to mask these daddy issues, but until a less than convincing shift at the end, Last mainly prefers to present him as a cruel, mindless villain.
None of this works, as the various elements fail to integrate. Doug’s story bores most of the time, as it follows a predictable path, and the perplexing choices in terms of Anders’ narrative harm it.
I do appreciate that Last brings back the original cast, and it adds new talents like Russell, Rennie and TJ Miller. At the very least, I can’t blame this side of things for the movie’s failure.
Alas, the actors find themselves stuck in such a clunky mix of melodrama and out-of-place humor that they can’t make Last work. Although the first movie entertained, the sequel fizzles.
Footnote: bonus sequences show up during and after the end credits.