Share & Connect
Not content with his job as a bouncer at a local Beantown bar and a bit of an embarrassment to his accomplished family, Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) dreams of the kind of success enjoyed by minor league hockey goon Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber).
When a chance encounter with an on-ice thug leads to a bloody fist fight that Doug easily wins, the coach of the Halifax Highlanders sees potential in this mammoth sized man who is only hampered by his lack of any hockey playing ability and his brother’s old figure skates.
Standing up to the taunts of the other players, Doug manages to join the team, and with the encouragement of his hockey obsessed best friend (Jay Baruchel) quickly becomes a rising star. Soon he’ll have the opportunity to face off against Ross “The Boss” Rhea and perhaps finally land a girlfriend. Now – all he needs is to learn how to skate.
Hockey – it’s as Canadian as donuts which is why producer David Gross couldn’t help but feel frustration that the quintessential movie about the sport, Slapshot, was made by someone other than a Canadian. And damn it, David Gross was going to do something about it.
Together with producer Jesse Shapira, Gross found screenwriter Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express, Superbad, The Simpsons) and asked him if he’d like to write a Canadian hockey movie. Turns out that being an expat Canadian, Goldberg had been chomping at the bit to do something about the old country.
He liked the idea. He was excited about the idea. He wanted to write the screenplay. There was just one problem – he knew nothing about hockey (a fact that could lose him his citizenship, but we won’t go there right now). So he turned to actor/writer Jay Baruchel.
Now Baruchel is a different story. He’d been weaned on hockey and his time spent in the California sun hadn’t leached that out of his sub-zero Montreal-winter blood. “All of my knowledge or interest in hockey comes from my father,” he said. “I was raised in a household where the Montreal Canadians were effectively our religion: Jewish on Dad’s side, Catholic on Mum’s, all Habs fans.
And Dad’s favorite players were always the tough ones, the enforcers – or the goons for lack of a better term: Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, John “Rambo” Kordic, Larry “Big Bird” Robinson, friggin’ Lyle Odelein.”
Baruchel met with Goldberg, Gross and Shapira and everything fell into place. “It was almost five years ago when we finished the first draft,” he said. Writing the script was a bi-coastal process – Goldberg in LA, Baruchel in Montreal. They tweaked it back and forth via email. “Then we brought some other really talented writers into the writers’ room: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir and my writing partner, Jesse Chabot.” This was teamwork, through and through.
‘Goon’ is inspired by the book, Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into a Minor Hockey League, about Doug Smith, a late bloomer, who didn’t start playing hockey until age 19 and came equipped with the unlikely skill of an amateur boxer. No one in the Goon camp remembers who found the book first. Best guess is it was Jesse Shapira.
The guiding light in the story evolution was simple. “We knew the character of Doug Glatt, our hero, had to be an underdog,” said Baruchel. As the story progressed, Glatt – a newcomer to the game of hockey – became an amalgam of two ideas: first was Baruchel’s father, who had played hockey in his youth on the Bethel Wings, an all-Jewish hockey team.
“I grew up hearing stories about when they would play French teams in east end Montreal. Spectators would throw pennies at them as they skated onto the ice,” he continued. “I coupled that with this real hockey player named Mike Bajurny who’s not Jewish, but played on the Laval Chiefs which is part of the North American Hockey League. Both Bajurny’s father and his grandfather are doctors, his brother’s a filmmaker and he’s the guy who gets paid to fight and skate for a living.”
Bajurny is the subject of a documentary called Le Chiefs, produced by his brother, and it’s about one season in the blue-collar minor leagues, complete with awkward suppers with his family. “They keep asking Mike, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you slumming? You’re one of us. You can do better.’ And he says, ‘No, I love it.
This is what I’m good at.’ Those two things coalesced in my mind and out of that, I said, ‘What if we just make Doug stupid as hell?’ I mean, he’s a good man, an honest man, everything is very old fashioned and simple with him, but let’s write this so he’s maybe not the crunchiest chip in the bag,” said Baruchel (Baruchel is quick to add that his dad is not nearly as slow-witted as Glatt).
It was at that point that David Gross called in Don “The Hammer” Carmody. Carmody liked that Goon was a comedy and that it “was a terrific reimagining of the minor league hockey milieu”, and he liked the players involved (director and actors). That was all it took for him to agree to help finance and produce the film.
‘Goon’ is available on DVD on May 29, 2012.
Image Courtesy of http://www.magpictures.com