Before Goon appeared in 2011, English Canada had tried to make decent hockey movies.

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This article was published 17/3/2017 (1514 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Before Goon appeared in 2011, English Canada had tried to make decent hockey movies.

God knows, we tried.

But the results were generally terrible, whether we’re talking about the god-awful melodrama of the early effort Face-Off (1971) or just plain, across-the-board god-awful of Score: A Hockey Musical (2010). On occasion, some Canfilm geniuses have tried to graft ethnic or social issues onto the form in films such as the Sikh hockey comedy Breakaway (2011) or the gay hockey comedy Breakfast with Scot (2007) — with negligible results.

For me, nothing succeeded like the excess of Michael Dowse’s Goon: at last, an unpretentious, crude hockey movie leavened with snarky attitude, but nevertheless gleefully unapologetic in its adoration of gloves-off, on-ice violence.

Co-written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, it was that rarest of Canadian comedies that yielded authentic belly laughs.

In the inevitable sequel, we find Doug "The Thug" Glatt (Seann William Scott) elected team captain of the Halifax Highlanders, the "C" awarded not for his expertise, but for the affection shown by his team.

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A happy ending makes for a forboding beginning — the glory doesn’t last. Doug is on the losing end of a scrap with young, brutal rival Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) and is lost for the season due to his injuries.

Doug’s girlfriend, Eve (Alison Pill), now his wife, was once turned on by hockey fights. But as she’s pregnant, she asks him to quit the non-stop punishment of a hockey career for the sake of their baby. That choice leaves Doug in the subterranean hell of an insurance-company job while his teammates find themselves at a disadvantage when Highlanders owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) hires his own destructive offspring — Anders — to take Doug’s place.

With a script by Baruchel and Jesse Chabot — and directed by Baruchel — Goon 2 comes close to being as funny as the first movie.

Baruchel employs a contemporary approach to film comedy, hiring lots of good improvisers (this time including Jason Jones as Doug’s insurance company boss and T.J. Miller as a foul-mouthed TV sports desk anchor) and letting them riff on camera until they hopefully pan some gold.

But the best moments still come whenever Baruchel trains his camera on the most unlikely yuksters, including Kim Coates as sardonic coach Ronnie Hortense and Liev Schreiber in the returning role of Ross "The Boss" Rhea, Doug’s nemesis in the first movie and this time a mentor in the grimy twilight of a post-hockey life — an awkward position many real professional hockey enforcers face these days.

Last of the Enforcers doesn’t quite match its predecessor. Where the first movie won its laughs in an organic way, Baruchel’s improv-y approach feels comparatively forced.

Curiously, Seann William Scott emerges as the most improved player this time out. Scott too much wanted to be liked playing the punchy naif in Goon, and he erred on the side of sweetness. He seems to have relaxed into the role, learning what every hockey goon knows instinctively: he’s not here to be loved.

randall.king@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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