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Electric Goonaloo - 'Goon: Last of the Enforcers'

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Low expectations can be a gift when it comes to movies. When you don’t have a lot of hope for a film, your odds of disappointment are greatly reduced and there’s room for you to occasionally be pleasantly surprised.

2011’s “Goon,” a film that starred Sean William Scott (“Ice Age: Collision Course”) as Doug Glatt, a dim-witted, good-natured bouncer-turned-hockey-player that found his niche as an enforcer for a low-level professional hockey team, was one such pleasant surprise. It was unapologetically violent and laden with cursewords. It was also quite funny and unexpectedly heartfelt.

It was not, however, a film that cried out for a sequel.

Yet here we have “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.” Once again, my expectations were kept low. And once again, I was pleasantly surprised. Make no mistake – the film is more of the same and we’re talking about some significantly diminished returns, but there’s some real entertainment value here.

Scott is back as Glatt, the beloved leader of the Halifax Highlanders. He’s married to his sweetheart Eva (Allison Pill, “Miss Sloane”) and still dishing it out on the ice. But the team’s new owner – legendary former player Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie, TV’s “The Man in the High Castle”) – wants more from his team. This means that some of the old guard – including Doug – might be on their way out.

That process is accelerated when Doug is badly beaten in a fight with an opposing player named Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell, “Ingrid Goes West”) who just happens to be both a very skilled player and the son of the Highlanders’ owner.

Doug’s injuries lead him to walk away from the team, which in turn results in Anders and a couple of other ringers joining Halifax. Doug misses his team, but buckles down and gets a regular job for Eva’s sake - she’s pregnant and worried about Doug’s long-term health. However, Doug can’t stay away; he enlists the help of former nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber, TV’s “Ray Donovan”) to help him learn to fight more effectively with his left.

Anders proves to be a divisive presence in the locker room, alienating veterans like Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin, TV’s “L’Imposteur”) and coach Ronnie Hortense (Kim Coates, “Adventure Club”) even as the Highlanders struggle to make the playoffs.

Upon Doug’s return, it becomes clear that there can be only one leader of the Highlanders. And whoever wants that captain’s C on his sweater is going to have to fight for it.

“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” marks the feature directing debut of actor Jay Baruchel, who co-stars in the film and also wrote the script (he co-wrote the screenplay of “Goon” alongside Evan Goldberg). It’s an unlikely sort of passion project, but there’s an undeniable enthusiasm permeating the proceedings that helps to mask or otherwise underplay some of the film’s flaws.

There’s a gleefully profane quality to the film that is so over the top as to become almost endearing. The language is filthy throughout; the script is riddled with curse words and juvenile banter. It’s “boys being boys” taken to such an extreme that it’s rendered silly and harmless. And the violence of the fights is cartoonish, with ludicrous Foley effects and outrageous blood sprays. Again – there’s so much that it becomes humorous rather than off-putting.

For whatever reason, this role brings out the very best in Seann William Scott. The combination of geniality and brutality is oddly, perfectly suited for his talents. He’s really quite good in this role and it’s nice to see him get another opportunity to revisit it. And Pill makes a lovely pairing with him; she strikes her own blend of sweetness and coarseness. Russell is an ideal fit as Anders Cain; as a former hockey player AND son of Hollywood royalty Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, he is perhaps uniquely appropriate for this role. Schreiber, meanwhile, embraces the opportunity to play against type and seems to be genuinely enjoying himself.

There are other familiar faces as well. Baruchel is relentlessly gross as Doug’s best friend. Elisha Cuthbert returns as Eva’s party girl sister. And T.J. Miller has some entertaining interludes as the edgy new anchor on a “SportsCenter” analogue.

“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” isn’t a great movie. But considering that it’s essentially an unnecessary sequel, it’s far better than it has any right to be. It isn’t for everyone – it’s goofy and incredibly graphic – but there are laughs to be had. If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll probably find something to like here; this is definitely more of the same. Just don’t expect too much and you’ll have a good time.

[3 out of 5]


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