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Friday, May 25, 2012 - Page updated at 03:00 p.m.

Movie review
'Goon': Raunchy, surprisingly sweet hockey film scores

By Christy Lemire
The Associated Press

For a movie about ragged, trash-talking thugs beating the crap out of each other on the ice, "Goon" is surprisingly sweet.

It's not a Judd Apatow production, but it does feature his signature brand — a balance of raunchiness and heart that's hard to strike — as well as some of his old friends. Seth Rogen's frequent writing partner, Evan Goldberg, teams up this time with Jay Baruchel ("Knocked Up") for a story about a bar bouncer who becomes an unlikely hockey enforcer.

Director Michael Dowse's film is all formula: Scrappy, underdog team on the rise in Halifax, Nova Scotia, gets a shot at the playoffs, featuring a hero who must face a rival in order to prove himself in the climax, and there's even a little romance thrown in.

But it offers enough tweaks to those conventions to make "Goon" feel unexpectedly fresh. It also shines a light on the role of the enforcer, the guy whose job it is to protect the stars and sacrifice his body in the name of revenge.

That's Seann William Scott's purpose as the guileless, kindhearted Doug Glatt.

Alison Pill plays the local hockey groupie Doug makes the mistake of falling for. Eva is frequently drunk and self-loathing. She also happens to have a boyfriend. But "Goon" isn't cruel to her; rather it has the decency to present her as flawed.

That's the lovely surprise that happens over and over. Yes, it begins with blood splattering on the ice in slow motion, but it's also about friendship, loyalty and teamwork in much more convincing ways than glossier, feel-good movies.

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