Oh how I’ve missed this team! The Halifax Highlanders are back on the ice, and I can’t believe it has been five years since Goon! The whole gang was back, with a few new faces as a labour dispute in the big leagues has sent a lot of talent to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League. Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of the team, but the team isn’t doing that well. When they play the first place team from Reading, Doug gets his clock cleaned by an up and coming star who delivers a beating unlike any Doug has ever suffered. With an injured shoulder, Doug retires from the game he grew to love and the team he loved. Though the injury is unfortunate, it may not be all bad though, as Doug and Eva (Alison Pill) are now married and expecting a baby. Of course, even without Doug, the team must go on, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) makes some trades and acquires his son and star player from the Reading Wolfdogs, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the one who made Glatt retire. Cain is talented but reckless and dangerous, both on and off the ice. With he hears how the Highlanders’ locker room is falling apart, Doug looks up his old friend/nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him how to fight left handed so he can get back in the game…. of course he does all this without telling his wife, so you can guess how that will play out… Cain is eventually traded back to his old team and a collision course with Doug and the Highlanders with the final playoff spot on the line.
Jay Baruchel co-wrote both this film and the original Goon, but he makes his directorial debut with Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, which turned out to be another really good hockey movie. It’s clear he’s a fan, and wants to do right by the game and the fans. My only complaint about the first film was Baruchel’s Pat Houlihan character. I thought he was over the top and needlessly crude. This time around he’s still crude and over the top, but he was actually funnier, also there’s far less of him on screen, likely because Baruchel had to dedicate his time to the directing. Sadly though there was a character that seemed to fill the role in Pat Houlihan’s stead, and that was Elisha Cuthbert as Mary, a character thrust into the film for seemingly no reason except to be the crude friend (this time being a friend of Eva’s). Her casting may have been a favour from Baruchel, they did work together on Popular Mechanics For Kids in 1997 and she is married to Dion Phaneuf (former Toronto Maple Leafs captain? Currently playing defence for the Ottawa Senators…. a hockey player). In fact, I’d have to say that I really didn’t enjoy the cameos that were scattered throughout the film. T.J. Miller seemed thrust into an improv role as a sports reporter which kind of gave us some exposition into what was going on with the team, but seemed to be trying to hard to be funny. Jason Jones felt much the same as Doug’s boss at the insurance company he works at before getting back into the game. I did like James Duthie and Tessa Bonhomme in their roles, which they fit perfectly. Duthie plays the lead sportscaster opposite Miller and Bonhomme plays a sports reporter. In real life, Duthie is a sportscaster and host of a variety of hockey shows on TSN, Bonhomme is a Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player and is also a sportscaster for TSN.
Once again I was very impressed by Seann William Scott, I loved the heart he brought to the character and the film overall. Goon 2 to me was a “returning hero” story, as Doug is first broken and then has to rediscover himself, rebuild himself and come back to save the day. I’m a sucker for those stories (as bad as Highlander 2: The Quickening is, I still love the bit at the beginning where weak old man Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gets his powers back). I was very happy to see Marc-André Grondin back as Xavier LaFlamme too, I hadn’t heard that he was in the film. Kim Coates was just as phenomenal as he was in the first film as Coach Ronnie Hortense and of course Liev Schreiber is always a nice addition to any cast.
For a first time director, Baruchel did a very good job, obviously he’s intimate with the script and the characters, but I really liked some of his camera work. He had an excellent eye for the on ice shots, and seeing how they did some of them in the bonus features of the Blu Ray was really cool. One camera rig was setup on a base, with hockey pucks attached to each corner and pushed along the ice with a snow shovel-like handle. I love that kind of innovation! More than just a simple hockey movie, more than just a sequel, Goon 2 is another great comedy with light drama and a lot of heart. It also takes a very real look at the game, and the role of the “goon” in the current day. Is there still a place for them, or do they end up forgotten and suffering from post-concussion symptoms? Will they become a circus act, fighting for the enjoyment of “fans” in an event like the film’s “Bruised and Battered” competition? I don’t know, but I did enjoy how Doug Glatt approached the role and his own future in the game. The scene where Doug sets his stick against the wall in the hallway was beautiful, and reminded me of the scene in the first film where he wipes off the team logo on the floor of the locker room. Those are the scenes that made me love these films.
Bottom Line: After watching Goon 2, I played several games of PS3 hockey. When does the season start again?
Also, I love that they had an “after the credits” scene.
Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a powerful, workaholic D.C. lobbyist who uses every trick in the book to achieve her goals. But her impressive success record, is on the line when she switches sides and leaves one agency to work for another. She fights for the causes she believes in, and the causes she believes she can win for. Originally she and her team were selected by her boss (Sam Waterston) to fight for gun activists and prevent a bill from being passed, but she is approached by the owner of a smaller, far less prestigious agency (Mark Strong) to fight against her former firm and fight for the gun control bill. Bringing some of her team with her and joining her new team the lies, deceit, back room dealings and shenanigans of lobbying and political intrigue unfold brilliantly on the screen before us.
Wow, this was an incredible film. It clearly had a great ensemble cast but Jessica Chastain stood out and was simply fantastic. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, but sadly overlooked at the Oscars. I’d say that her performance here was every bit as good and as worthy as her previous Oscar nominations for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty. At first I was a little leery of the film’s runtime of 2 hours 10 minutes, but it was paced perfectly and there wasn’t a wasted minute or slow scene on the screen. There were twists and turns as you would expect, but just when I though I had Miss Sloane figured out, she bobbed and weaved away from my expectations with tremendous results. The climax of the film was definitely something I did not see coming, and I really do love that about this film, and films in general. I love to be surprised when I watch movies, which hasn’t happened a whole lot lately, so Miss Sloane was a special treat.
Bottom Line: A very interesting look at the complex system that is lobbying in the United States. The film isn’t really as pro gun or anti gun as you might think, rather it’s all about the corruption and dishonesty of politics. The film could have been arguing about the MacGuffin bill or Johnson rods and been just as effective.
From the co-creators of Glee (Ian Brennan) and Saw (Leigh Whannell) comes Cooties, a horror comedy that is full of dark humour. This certainly won’t be for everyone, but I’m an awful person and enjoyed it quite a bit.
Clint (Elijah Wood) has come back from New York City to his hometown of Ft. Chicken, Illinois to work on his horror novel but has taken a job as a substitute summer school teacher for some extra money. On his first day at the school, he meets an eternally optimistic old friend (Alison Pill) and her boyfriend (Rainn Wilson) the Phys Ed teacher. Through a series of events explained over the opening credits, we see a “zombie apocalypse” unfold. I actually really liked this, because in almost all the zombie films that I’ve seen, you never really find out what started everything. As we see the children of his school turn in to savage, mindless killers; Clint and the surviving teachers have to battle their way to safety through the halls and across a playground of terror.
Now, the biggest problem that Cooties has is that it really is very, very dark humour and subject matter. It is hard to make a film that contains so much violence against children (and get away with it), even though they made them fairly unlikable and fairly threatening. The violence and gore at times was over the top, but only to stress the absurdity of the situations. The film was full of clever dialogue and a great deal of improv from the ensemble cast helped to balance out the darkness of killing zombie children. Cooties also recognizes and certainly applauds the difficult job that teachers have, though the regular run of the mill ones really don’t have to deal with zombies…
Well acted; a clever twist on the zombie and the horror-comedy genres; and very funny at times, Cooties is certainly a film you have to be in the right mood and mind frame to watch, but if you are, it’s a great way to pass an evening.
Bottom Line: The opening credits will probably turn you off of chicken nuggets for a while….