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dir Michael Dowse
scr Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg
prd Jay Baruchel, Don Carmody, Ian Dimerman, David Gross, Andre Rouleau, Jesse Shapira
with Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Marc-Andre Grondin, Kim Coates, David Paetkau, Eugene Levy, Ellen David, Nicholas Campbell, Richard Clarkin, Jonathan Cherry
release UK 6.Jan.12, US 24.Feb.12
Purpose in life: Scott
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A smart script and vivid characters make this rowdy hockey comedy much more engaging than we expect. But then, director Dowse has a history of turning limited premises into entertaining comedies (see Fubar and It's All Gone Pete Tong).
Nice-guy Doug (Scott) works as a bouncer in Massachusetts, hanging out with his chucklehead pal Pat (Baruchel) and wondering when he'll discover something he's good at, like his doctor brother Ira (Paetkau). His parents (Levy and David) don't conceal their disappointment when Doug joins a hockey team as a hard-headed goon whose role is to fight opponents. Then he's picked up by a professional team in Canada, which puts him on a collision course with his idol Ross (Schreiber). And his natural leadership skills strain his friendship with his failing all-star teammate Xavier (Grondin).
Doug is a terrific movie character: a genuinely sweet brute who finds purpose in brutally beating people up. The script explores these conflicting characteristics in his interaction with his friends, teammates and family, as well as a budding romance with the amusingly offbeat Eva (Pill). Through all of this, the filmmakers never hold back on anything, realistically capturing the ribald language, sex, drugs and violence of this kind of life.
It helps that the film's snarky energy is balanced by the intelligent dialog and characters who win us over despite their considerable flaws. Much of the humour is rather too-blue, but even the most outrageous drunken banter is hilariously offhanded. Meanwhile, the plot builds steadily to the big showdown between Doug and Ross, while Doug's relationships with his family, Xavier and Eva play into each scene.
Each actor gives a performance that cuts through the cartoonish situations. Scott is perfect for this role, continually balancing his hulking physicality with Doug's naivete. And his interaction with Pill's bad-girl Eva is spiky and engaging. Baruchel is a little over-the-top as Doug's biggest fan, but Schreiber and Grondin balance him out with fiercely physical performances that manage to find a hint of internal depth. So even if there's not much to this film, but it's so much fun to watch that we don't care.
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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