Canadian Director Michael Dowse (Fubar, It’s All Gone Pete Tong) premiered his latest Hockey-Comedy back in September at TIFF to rousing reception and now is ready to unleash a “rink of fire” to the masses. Alliance Films has shown its firm vote of confidence in the distinctly-Canadian Film, touring it over the past week with stop-offs in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal and tonight, Toronto.
Montreal’s Jay Baruchel not only co-wrote Goon together with Evan Goldberg, but also stars in it. He is said to have been moved to tears by a surprise visit from now-Fiancée and then-Co-Star Alison Pill. The two developed a romance on-set and thus, the Film can be said to be a Labour of Love, in more ways than one. In addition to Dowse and Baruchel, talents David Paetkau, Liev Schreiber and Seann William Scott graced the Fan and Media-filled Red Carpet also at Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre.
Goon centers upon Doug (Scott), a Jewish-Canadian Bouncer and trained Boxer whom after years of struggling to find his niche, gets hired aboard a floundering Halifax Hockey Team as someone whose purpose solely is to help his Team win fights on-the-ice, fully utilizing those Boxing chops. Doug turns out to be a much better at his job than anticipated and this causes some friction within his Team, especially with its Captain of many vices Xavier (Marc-André Grondin), and also a competing team’s soon-to-retire star, the tough-as-nails Ross (Schreiber). Along the way, Doug falls for Eva (Pill) whom at first appears emotionally unavailable, but nonetheless he is determined to win her affections. With the support of his Team and Buddy Pat (Jay Baruchel), he enjoys a celebrated, although stormy rise to the top – even if it should come at the expense of his overachieving Parents.
Certainly not lacking controversy, Goon has gained much Media attention of late for both its shocking Posters, showing Baruchel in what might be considered a lewd act, but more so its violent on-ice beatdowns. A Representative for the City of Toronto has denied that it ordered the removal of the offending Posters namely from bus shelters, according to a probe by The Globe & Mail.
Baruchel poked fun at the situation, performing quickly an encore of the said lewd act for the Cameras, shouting “Here you go, one more time!”. On a more delicate note, I asked Baruchel about how this Film might be misconstrued solely as a tough, violent Film when in fact much of it actually is a Love Story. “Yes, that’s exactly right. I was raised to believe that toughness has nothing to do with being a good person or not”, he comments. “It’s also a reaction to a terrifying trend in movies where they’re always cynical and always come from a mean-spirited place. I just wanted to bring a happiness and heart back into Films.”.
Co-Star Paetkau, seen more recently on CTV‘s Flashpoint himself might have witnessed some of that softer side of Goon while filming in the wee hours of the morning at 4:00 AM. “I was noticing some chemistry between Jay Baruchel and Alison Pill“, he reveals to me. “Now low and behold they fell in love and are getting married!”, he laughs.
New Yorker Liev Schrieber whom we were lucky enough to have join the Toronto leg of the Press Tour, diversifies his already impressive Résumé as the no mercy Arch-rival of Scott‘s Doug. But does he see his Ross as the Villain in Goon? “I don’t see Ross as a Villain”, he answers with a pause. “But I guess you do”. “Maybe it’s the Handlebar Mustache?”, he asks slyly. Although certainly not evil-willed, his character might be seen as malicious especially when juxtaposed against simple-heart and minded Doug. Does that make him a Villain? You decide.
By far, Goon showcases American Pie Alumni Scott in one of his most heartfelt performances yet, giving him a long-overdue opportunity to sharpen his blades from the standard raunchy, Slapstick fare for which his brand has become synonymous. And really the self-professed “awful skater” gave it his all, going as far as to gain 30 lbs for this role. That was the easy part though, he claims. “A lot of the fighting stuff I could do on my own, but it’s a completely different thing fighting on ice”, admits the magnetic Funnyman.
Alliance Films releases Goon on February 24, 2012 nationwide. Upon questioning Director Dowse on whether or not he is feeling pressure to appease the discerning tastes of Canadian Moviegoers, he tells me, “Absolutely. Hockey Fans specifically. You wanna do it well.”.
See more Photos below from tonight’s Premiere:
Watch a Video of my Interview Clips with the Cast and Director of Goon:
A special thanks goes to Tristan from Scene Creek who also took some wonderful Photos from the Red Carpet. Catch-up on his coverage here. A warm thanks goes also to longtime supporter Glenn, who also snapped a few Photos for us!
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong | Additional Photography: Tristan Laughton & Glenn Hicks)