The distributor of the film Goon, a politically incorrect new hockey comedy, says the city has yanked promotional posters that show Canadian actor Jay Baruchel making a lewd gesture with his fingers and tongue.
The distributor, Alliance Films, says outdoor advertiser Astral Media was told to rip down the signs from transit shelters Wednesday after the city apparently received numerous complaints about the sexually suggestive pictures of Montreal native Baruchel, who has also starred in Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder.
“I find it interesting that the campaign has been up for two weeks, and today – when the gala premiere of the movie is set to take place in Toronto – we’re told they have to come down,” said Frank Mendicino, Alliance’s senior vice-president of marketing.
However, a city official with the Public Realm section said late Wednesday that although the city received complaints about the posters, it did not order them taken down. The complaints were passed on to Astral Media.
Alliance installed roughly 120 posters for the film around the city’s bus shelters, including the ones of Baruchel (who also co-wrote the film), as well as actors Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber. Prints with Scott and Schreiber were allowed to stay up.
Directed by Michael Dowse, Goon features Scott as an aimless Massachusetts bouncer who has been touched with the “fist of God,” and is recruited by an underdog, minor-league hockey team to be its new enforcer. Schreiber stars as an aging “tough guy” in the final laps of his career.
Among die-hard hockey fans on Twitter, the buzz has been building for Goon, which Alliance touts as the best hockey movie to come along since Paul Newman’s cult classic Slap Shot made in 1977.
But the film’s unabashed on-ice violence was also bound to ruffle some feathers – both inside and beyond hockey circles – as the league continues to grapple with the deaths last year of three NHL tough guys, as well as Sidney Crosby’s sidelined career as he struggles to recover from a year-old concussion after several hits to the head.
Mendicino said the marketing of Goon has been one of the biggest challenges of his 20-year career, with the first hurdle coming last December when the World Junior Hockey league refused to run promo spots during the championship games, citing too much violence.
Still, he defends the movie’s hard knuckle, gritty premise.
“It simply is what it is,” he says. “ Goon is not glorifying violence. It’s a fun comedy about the Canadian identity. It’s just a movie, that’s it. It’s pure entertainment, and a Canadian movie that we think is going to break records.”