TORONTO — Six years after the hit Canadian hockey film Goon, the bloody bruisers are back pulling no punches for a comedy sequel.
Only this time, co-writer and cast member Jay Baruchel is also the director — a role he likens to being a coach on a bench.
“I didn’t put skates on once this movie,” said the wise-cracking, Montreal-raised comedy star, who’s brought an idiosyncratic charm to films including Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder and This Is the End.
“I needed to project confidence wherever possible. I had dozens of piss-and-vinegar 20-year-old men to boss around and I didn’t need them to see me skating like an idiot.”
The ardent Montreal Canadiens fan took the helm for Goon: Last of the Enforcers because the original film’s director, Michael Dowse, was unavailable to make the sequel, which hits theatres Friday.
“It took some time because we didn’t make this movie for cynical reasons,” said Baruchel, who now lives in Toronto. “I think a lot of times when you get a sequel inside of a year, it’s because bean counters have dollar signs in their eyes.
“We didn’t need to make this movie we wanted to, though, and we wanted to make the movie that these characters and our fans deserve. We took it very seriously and anything important takes time.”
Baruchel co-stars in both films as the foul-mouthed best friend to Seann William Scott’s leading character, a sweet and simple-minded minor league hockey enforcer named Doug (The Thug) Glatt.
In the sequel, an injury forces Doug to leave the Halifax Islanders and find a job selling insurance. Alison Pill plays his pregnant wife, who patiently stands by his side as he tries to return to the team.
Other returning cast members include Liev Schreiber and Marc-Andre Grondin as players who also find themselves contemplating a life after the ice.
New cast members include Wyatt Russell as a villainous team captain and Elisha Cuthbert as the beer-chugging best friend to Pill’s character.
Baruchel said he and Jesse Chabot wrote the sequel because they felt there was an appetite for a followup to the original, which earned $4.1 million at Canadian theatres in 2012 — more than any other homegrown English-language feature film that year.
“It’s not with every year Goon fades into the rear view. It’s more surprisingly quite the opposite,” said Baruchel, noting he’s met fans who’ve memorized the script and have tattoos of the characters.
The success of the first film is also partly what drew Scott back.
“Even the reviews were good, which never happens for me,” quipped Scott, who played jock Steve Stifler in the American Pie franchise.
Baruchel aimed to make the filming of the sequel a collaborative process.
“I also wanted absolutely everyone on my set to feel that it was their sandbox,” said Baruchel.
“Anybody could pitch me something and so there are moments in that movie that I didn’t come up with.”
The sequel has just as much — if not more — blood and brawls as the first.
Scott, who had never played hockey before “Goon,” said he and Russell didn’t use stunt doubles for their brutal final fight.
“At the end of the fight we both look totally spent and that wasn’t far from the truth,” said Scott.
As a director, Baruchel was “a total natural,” said Scott: “I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of really great comedy directors and Jay is my favourite.”
So, will Baruchel do another?
“Well, Doug is retired and it’s not ‘Rocky’ where he will retire and then come out of retirement four … times,” said Baruchel with a laugh, using an unprintable expletive.
“But I think we have such a deep world we’ve created populated by some pretty real and vivid characters that there is more story to tell, in our minds.”
Scott said he’s also on-board. But would he do another American Pie film?
“‘American Death,”’ he quipped. “No, I actually think it would be really fun to see Stifler in his 40s just being the exact same. Or maybe it would be sad. I think we’re done with them.”