Goon: Pucking hell, who knew Seann William Scott could act?

Directed by Michael Dowse. Starring Seann William Scott, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber. 92 mins
Rating: Four/Five
In cinemas now

In a month where Streep ticks all the Oscar boxes embodying Thatcher and Michael Fassbender’s raw, naked performance in Shame may earn him two nominations – Best Actor and Best Boy Grip – who would have thought that January’s most surprising performance would come from American Pie’s Stifler? In a subtle, irresistible performance, Seann William Scott plays Doug, a good-hearted and dim-witted Forrest Gump character who doesn’t like fighting – but just happens to be damn good at it. So much so that an ice-hockey scout recruits him to be the Halifax Highlander’s enforcer – a checking machine who protects their star player from attack and exterminates the competition.

Written by Knocked Up’s Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, Goon’s brash and foul-mouthed humour is a hilarious blend of Superbad and Slap Shot, with a lovely little romantic subplot between Scott and Midnight in Paris’ adorable Alison Pill.

Oh, and fights. Lots and lots of fights.

Gloves hit ice, pucks knock out teeth and blades meet flesh as the fight culture of ice-hockey is revealed in all its ridiculous glory. While commentators narrate punches as nonchalantly as passes, Liev Schreiber proves a comic talent as Doug’s rival enforcer. In a tense, funny and sharply written homage to Heat, Goon competes with When Harry Met Sally for the crown of Best Climactic Comedy Coffee-shop Conversation, as Schrieber’s vicious veteran and Scott’s idealist ingénue debate philosophies regarding their unique role.

But like its lead character, underneath Goon’s rough and ready exterior is a soft, nougaty centre, as director Dowse ensures that Doug’s simple nature is never the butt of the joke. When Doug wishes a fellow goon good luck before a rumble and leaves him proclaiming “What a nice guy!”, you smile with him, not laugh at him. Though Goon’s brief run-time renders its ending slightly too abrupt, leaving a comedy wanting more is a very rare and nice complaint to have.