The awkward kid from “Undeclared” is doing something right. Both as actor and co-writer, Jay Baruchel‘s name is all over the hockey picture “Goon,” a vaguely “Slap Shot“-ish comedy that, until it debuted at Toronto this past week, only had going for it some fairly uninspiring posters, a less than gut-splitting red-band trailer and the weird casting combination of Seann William Scott and Liev Schrieber to its name. But the picture’s apparently uproarious, a bloody laugh-fest for the ages, and has exploded the hitherto staid conventions of the hockey picture (whatever they may be), at least until Kevin Smith aims to get his way and begins work on his apparently epic two-part swansong “Hit Somebody.”
Co-written by frequent Seth Rogen collaborator Evan Goldberg, “Goon” was reported to have sold to Magnolia Pictures‘ Magnet division in a deal mooted by The Hollywood Reporter, who broke the story, to be worth around the $2 million mark. The studio’s president Eamonn Bowles set his sights fairly high declaiming, “Goon is a pucking blast. It’s a complete crowd pleaser that has all the elements of a future comedy classic.” Well, puck us purple.
Now Variety reports Baruchel, who’s increasingly in demand of late with “Random Acts of Violence,” “Exorcism Diaries” and a long-threatened role to look forward to in “Seth And Jay Vs. The Apocalypse” on his plate, has been tapped to pen comedy “Baseballissimo” with Jesse Chabot, his writing partner.
Pardon the pie-in-the-face obvious pun, but baseball pictures aren’t known for their tremendous batting average unless they’re “The Natural” or Kevin Costner feel-good dramas (“Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams“); with the Nick Hornby adaptation “Fever Pitch” bellyflopping a few years ago and killing Jimmy Fallon‘s movie career in the process. Presumably “Baseballissimo” will aim to replicate the “Goon” model and have its foot in a tenable reality, in spite of having a ridiculous hard-to-sell title like the Trey Parker/Matt Stone sports comedy “BASEketball,” which, to be fair, remains loved in some quarters. It’s also pretty nakedly trying to replicate the success “Goon” is enjoying, sports film similarities aside, right down to its non-fiction source material — in this case, Dave Bidini‘s 2005 memoir, which saw him jet off to Nettuno, Italy with his family “in search of his favorite summer game.”
Whether or not “Baseballissimo” will prove to be the “Balls of Fury” to “Goon”‘s “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (i.e. a last-gasp desperate imitative wheeze) is obviously as yet unclear, but both seem to be made of harder stuff than either of those, and cut from stronger cloth. Whatever pans out with the project, Baruchel’s certainly becoming a canny young operator to be reckoned with — the success of “Goon” suggests he’s anything but deserving of the derisory put-down of the title. Hard to believe it’s the same nasal little twerp that tried to jump Carla Gallo‘s bones on television a decade ago. Here’s a recent trailer.