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A quirky comedy turns into a coming-of-age dramedy and gets a little lost on the way
napierslogs8 September 2012
What starts out as a silly comedy quickly descends into a fairly average coming-of-age dramedy. But after reading an interview with the director, "Goats" is very clearly a coming-of-age dramedy; it's just the marketers that would like to pretend that it's a quirky comedy – usually an easier sell for indies. The change in genre is both good and bad news for the audience.

We are first introduced to Ellis (Graham Phillips) as he's living with his mother, Wendy (Vera Farmiga), a new age hippie, and Goat Man (David Duchovny) a step-father-like figure, on a sprawling desert farm. Goat Man smokes weed and makes goat treks – whatever those are. His mother talks in nonsense philosophical quips as she comes up with more and more ways to become one with nature.

It's a relief when Ellis goes off to prep school because those early comedy stylings could only go so far. In prep school, Ellis clearly doesn't really know normal. He doesn't get along with his roommate and he keeps expecting Goat Man to send him marijuana in the mail. He's at the school because of his father's money and name, but thinks of his father as some worthless jerk who left him and his mother.

While the film isn't really going anywhere, the characterizations are good. I wasn't really sure what the film was trying to say, but one thing that I picked up on is that no matter how different people may be, they are all selfish. Hippies are just as selfish as those that are rich and privileged. His mother expects Ellis to come home for Thanksgiving even though she won't answer the phone or return his calls. So Ellis decides to spend the holiday with his father who is just as insufferable as he thought.

His father, Frank, is played by Ty Burrell in a very good, dramatic role. When we meet Frank, we also meet his new, younger wife, Judy (Keri Russell). She's the nicest character in the movie, and is the spark for the expected eventual outcome.

The acting is good, in particular Graham Phillips as our young hero. Ellis is pretty bland, but Phillips infuses as much warmth and charisma into him as possible. We don't mind following Ellis to prep school, mostly because it would be much better than spending time with his whining, annoying, screaming mother (who is communing with nature). But like the protagonist, the movie gets a little lost when he arrives at school. The only comedy is when he calls home and Wendy's new boyfriend answers the phone, or when Wendy's new boyfriend wears a small Speedo, or when Wendy's new boyfriend throws a hissy fit with Goat Man. Did I mention that Wendy's new boyfriend is played by Justin Kirk? He's hilarious. But he's also not really important to the narrative of the film.

As I mentioned, "Goats" gets a little lost when Ellis arrives at prep school. At this point it's a coming-of-age drama, and it takes him the entire school year to arrive at the tiny bit of acceptance he was searching for.
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An amazing film, unique and touching!
elkingcgm27 January 2012
I saw this film at the Loft here in Tucson, Arizona, where a lot of the movie was actually filmed! It was one of the best movies I've seen this film season-up there with 50/50 and the Descendants. The film had depth to it, which made the comedy in in it witty and made the audience want to know what would happen next. The best undiscovered (as of yet) film of the year. The actors and actresses were beyond perfect for the film-you could tell they cared about the characters, and they were selected perfectly for their roles as well. Seeing David Duchovny as a pot-head goat farmer was exquisite. All in all, this movie was amazing. I hope it comes out in theaters so I can take everyone to go see it!
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Modern coming of age story with a completely original flare.
Phill Rolen25 January 2012
My wife and I screened this film at the Sundance Film Festival World Premier this evening and were proud to have given it a 9 out of 10 stars! This fantastically funny modern coming of age story is carried by a great cast that truly brings the audience into a world of starkly contrasting personalities. I never stopped laughing for the entire 90 minutes, not just at the overtly funny moments but at the subtle idiosyncrasies that each character brings to the screen. Put simply I loved this film. David Duchovny as the Goat Man alone is an act that could go on the road. In his directorial debut Christopher Neil has produced a film that I could easily see becoming a cult classic!
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A great film !!
GregPanteix28 January 2012
I saw this movie in Sundance. It was an amazing moment. the audience loved it and was 100% behind the story of young Ellis.

At last a subtle movie that shows how complex life is, that growing up is not an easy thing to do and that human relationships are a tricky things.

the cast is great, the photography is awesome, the directing is right on.

I give this film a 10 because its the kind of film i wish there was more of. yes i laughed and i felt and i related to the story but it was never forced and the director Chris Neil is always careful of being true and making the moments touching yet never overdoing it.

Go see Goats when it comes out , and you'll remember it.
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Such a horrible movie I had to register for an IMDb account
T Gotty13 August 2012
As you can see, this is my first review since registering for IMDb. However, if you look at about 90% of the other reviewers at the time of my post, it is there first review as well. These people obviously have something to gain from this film doing well as there is no possible way this film could have garnered this much positive response.

I tried to like this movie, I wanted to like this movie and I even watched this movie till the weak ending, but this was one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my entire life. The acting and the script were horrible. There were "plot twists" that went nowhere and were not explained away except maybe on the floor of the cutting room. There is just so many weak attempts to make film likable and cram it all into 94 minutes that you end up detesting not only the characters, but the actors for allowing themselves to take part in this travesty.

Do not buy this movie, do not purchase it on OnDemand. I am literally still floored at how bad it was a day after seeing it. Just look at the other reviewers profiles, either it was so life altering that they had to register to put in their review (as I was), or the movie is so bad that they are moved to create fake reviews for a horrible attempt at a quirky indie movie.
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A unique and touching coming of age story about a boy who is trying to find who he is while dealing with his new age mother while is only mentor is a man called "Goat man".
iclaire28 January 2012
Goats, a film directed by Christopher Neil, is a fantastic, unique coming of age story, that spins the common story of personal discovery into something new and previously unseen. I was lucky enough to see the premier of Goats at the Sundance Film Festival. It was a major hit with the audience. Its touching, funny, and original story had the audience watching with bated breath. The cast of Goats was amazing. Graham Phillips played the main character of Ellis, a boy who trying to cope with his difficult parents as well as other problems. His mentor and stand in father, "Goat Man" is played by David Duchovny, a pot growing, goat herder. Both actors hit their roles out of the park making this film a huge success. I would definitely recommend this wonderful film!
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Brilliantly casted, nicely executed and a good story to boot
hillbilly8571929 January 2012
Great cast with chemistry delivers an engaging performance of an coming of age tale. The story revolves around Ellis, a teenage boy trying to carve out his own life despite having the enormous weight of raising his new-age mother. His troubles are further compounded by his father figure, Goatman, a full blown stoner/gardener who seems mentally stuck at the age of 17. Be prepared to laugh out loud.

Set in Tucson, AZ, the movie also features some of the most beautiful images of the Sonoran Desert. No fake landscapes and plastic saguaros, Tucson's authentic glory is on display in this film. The feel of the town is real.

Although I appreciate many independent films, there are few I want to see over and over, and this is one that I follow from the big screen, to the cheap-theater, and all the way to blue-ray.
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The Goat Whisperer and The Smart Kid
ikeybabe16 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This film tells a nice little story. This is the story of a teenage boy who is surrounded by dysfunction, but he's smart, insightful and pretty much knows better than everyone around him. I liked the concept and the story. David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga did a great job playing these wacky people - a grubby man who has a real affinity for goats and wants to be known by a seriously Hispanic name even though he is clearly not Hispanic and the rich spiritually-compromised mother who is completely selfish and self-dosed with whatever respectively . And the young man did a nice job being a center - the stabilizing force. The whole cast was pretty good and the acting well-done. The script was interesting and kept it moving at a good pace. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie.
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Wish it were a lot better but Ty Burrell deserves praise for his fine work here
Matthew Stechel23 August 2012
So so film has a really strong performance from "Modern Family's" Ty Burrell to recommend it for but sadly not much else to really separate it from the pack of the other high school kid comes of age in boarding school films out there. Film's trailer promises a wacky comedy about a hippie like guy with a lot of goats and a lot of life lessons to impart but the film really more or less uses him as set dressing...which is a shame because David Duchovny is clearly having a good time and is quite game for whatever the script wants to throw at him and indeed he seems so ready for wackiness that we all but laugh the first time we see him because it looks for all the world that his character is going to be the real star of this movie and a real laugh getter--but aside from having him duel with ex Weeds star Justin Kirk for the affections of a rather over the top Vera Farmiga the screenplay either can't or won't let Goat Man do much of anything else. The film's center is "The Good Wife" son Graham Phillips as a kid raised in the desert and finding his way in this boarding school--and befriending his roommate and finding a young woman and etc. The film's real star should've been Goat Man. I'm not saying that the film is lousy or even boring although it has some boring stretches, but its kind of slight, when the elements were clearly here for something really vivid and memorable. The film even has characters that it clearly doesn't know what to do with besides Goat Man and the crazy new age mom and the obnoxious boyfriend---there's also the tough chick who threatens to beat up Phillips at the beginning of the film, lives in the desert with Phillips and Goat Man and everyone and is taken under Vera famiga's wing in the middle of the film, but the film never gives her anything to do there's also Keri Russell (forever Felicity to me) who's character is given somewhat of a build-up but then once she gets introduced she's given nothing to do and is all but forgotten about from the rest of the film as well, which brings me back to Ty Burrell. He plays the much much hated father of Phillips' character. Vera Farmiga whom vastly overplays the new agey mother of Phillips' character (and is bravely unsympathetic here--meaning her character is very unlikable) has spent a good amount of her screen time bashing her ex-husband so when he finally shows up played by the dad from Modern Family--we're all ready to pretty much hate him--but the strong somewhat no nonsense portrayal by Burrell actually makes him the most likable character (not to mention the most level headed) in the entire movie. I thought his presence actually served to anchor the entire film itself--and his presence as a supporting character really served to help ground the whole movie itself into a reality that it was sorely lacking otherwise. Oh again its not that its a bad movie per se--but it should've been a lot better then it was.
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My favorite from this year's Sundance
nursewing27 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I was lucky enough to score tickets to the premiere at Eccles on Tuesday, and I consider this the best film from this year's lineup at Sundance. Funny and touching. I saw fourteen films, and this is the one that's living on in my head. The acting is amazing! Graham Phillips is not only an attractive kid, but he carries the film with the finesse of a much more seasoned actor. My friend was bugged by Wendy (played by Vera Farmiga) but we're supposed to be bugged by her! Farmiga pulls off the selfish, new age, nightmare of a mother in a way that somehow manages to be touching, hilarious, and a little disturbing. And then there's Justin Kirk as Bennet: perfect a**hole. Hysterical. I'll never look at a red Speedo in the same way again! Duchovny has never been better. He *IS* Goat Man.

Great direction from first-timer, Christopher Neil. Cinematography made me want to go to Tucson.
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