For my latest trip through the Netflix Instant Watch archives, I’ve dug up something new as well as something a little older. Seann William Scott shows off his talent on the ice while Tommy Lee Jones plays toy soldier.
The Stif-meister finally gets a chance to shine in this indie comedy about the seemingly inherent violence that fuels the sport of hockey. It may not be fair to think of Seann William Scott only as the foul-mouthed teen pervert from the ‘American Pie’ series, especially since he’s done plenty of other movies (though none really any good), but what other performance of his is ultimately worth remembering? Well, that’s where ‘Goon‘ comes in. Scott plays an apologetic and humble bouncer who can dish out as much as he receives, if not more. He’s not the smartest guy around, but he’s one of the most likeable characters we’ve seen in a while, thanks in large part to Scott’s portrayal. You can drink a pint with Doug Glatt and give him a really hard time, and the dude will still watch your back when shit hits the fan. Doug is awesome like that.
Loosely inspired by Doug Smith’s hockey career and the book by Adam Frattasio, the story starts off by introducing our future sports star and his best bud Pat (Jay Baruchel, who also co-wrote the script with Evan Goldberg). Things take off into utter hilarity when Doug is finally discovered by the coach of his hometown hockey team and is made an enforcer, one of the best unofficial monikers for a position. Like any movie in the sports genre, the opposition appears twice as menacing as our hero. That role goes to Liev Schreiber, who does an excellent job as a veteran enforcer so ruthless that he’s serving a 20-game suspension in the minors. Inevitably, the two men must eventually meet in some vicious brawl, and believe me, ‘Goon’ doesn’t disappoint in that respect. The buildup to that moment is equally enjoyable with a small love-interest subplot featuring Alison Pill. ‘Goon’ is the ‘Rocky IV’ of hockey movies.
‘Small Soldiers’ is proof that great things come in small packages. In this case, the movie does so with the sort of action-packed intensity that would make Stallone and Schwarzenegger jealous. Best of all, the whole family can enjoy the film without losing any of the mighty-loud brute force we expect from a good action flick. The script exploits every boy and grown man’s childhood fantasy of seeing his favorite action figures (like G.I. Joe and He-Man, but renamed the “Commando Elite” and the “Gorgonites”) come alive in an all-out war against one another. Thanks to the latest in military A.I. technology, these sentient toys play for keeps. The havoc they wreak in a quiet suburban neighborhood could potentially frighten some of the youngest in the audience.
The action comedy stars Phil Hartman, Kirsten Dunst, Denis Leary and a slew of talented voices led by Tommy Lee Jones and Frank Langella. The mix of CGI and animatronics from Stan Winston’s studio and the folks at ILM is seamless and still holds up fantastically nearly fifteen years later. Director of cult favorites ‘Gremlins’ and ‘The ‘Burbs’, Joe Dante slyly infuses a great deal of his usual dark humor, like the clever foreshadowing of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” playing as Christy (Dunst) and Alan (Gregory Smith) meet for the first time. ‘Small Soldiers’ is a total blast and continuous barrage of laughter and excitement once all hell breaks loose.