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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.
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!
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!
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
Review: This is your everyday tale of a teenager growing up with weird
surroundings. We have seen this type of storyline many times before,
but the unique thing about this storyline is the fact the leading
character is being brought up by a goat man. There is enough in the
plot to make the story interesting, but I did fall asleep a few times
during the movie because the leading character seemed pretty dull with
not much personality. All of the surrounding characters in the movie,
especially Duchovny, have strange life's with much going on, which the
young teenager has to deal with, along with college life and a
alcoholic room mate. Personally, I was hoping for a something a bit
different than the norm, but there isn't enough to make this movie
stand out from different movies in this genre. Watchable!
Round-Up: If this movie had a leading character with better screen charisma, then it wouldn't have been to bad. Even if they would have taken out the leading character, it had enough substance to be a different type of movie. Anyway, for me, it is Duchovny that makes this film, but the disappointing thing is that he is not in it that much. We are just watching a boy become a man who had to make some difficult choices, like every teenager nowadays.
Budget: $5million Worldwide Gross: N/A
I recommend this movie to people who are into there dramas about a teenager growing up with strange surroundings. 4/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is not much to like about the film except for the actors. Vera
Farmiga shows us why she's an Academy Award nominee, stealing every
scene she's in. David Duchovony has a sexy bod. The guy from Weeds
plays the guy from Weeds. And Graham Philips? I'd rather he had a
better vehicle to showcase his talent, but I suppose we all have to
The premise of the film, if a solid one can be written, isn't very solid. A young boy under the tutelage of a wise man named Javier, AKA the Goat Man, gets a chance to leave the comfort of his dysfunctional home and be a normal student at a prep school. He meets a bunch of non-sensical young men in the process, none of which are charming, endearing, or compelling characters at all. He gets drunk with some, high with the others, and he spends his time learning nothing but showing us how great of an academic he is (saying in one scene that he's getting all A's even though there's no evidence to say that he's extremely studied or intelligent).
Boy meets girl, girl is charming, but that storyline is pointless too. We meet the young boy's father played by Ty Burrel, and his father's new wife, played by the sensational Keri Russel. The father is a douche and the new wife is way too nice to understandably be in love with the douche father. The father's character arc is supposedly wrapped up at the end when he comes to visit the boy and helps him retrieve a stolen item, but it's another unbelievable arc in a series of subplots that the film throws at us expecting us to believe.
The movie goes on a bit aimlessly, never ceasing to grant us boring turns and twists that neither endear us or provoke meaningful thought. One last issue I would take with the film is the all white cast. Like other independent titles, one would think that this film would showcase a more broad spectrum of the locations that the film portrays. But like other independent titles to fall into the same trap, Goats can't imagine even the darker skin of an extra clouding up the already murky plot of final product.
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How does one review such a clichéd, though somewhat enjoyable indie
film as Goats?
While it wasn't the worst (absolutely labeled as an independent film and certainly not a mainstream) film, it was so by the numbers for this kind of film, it wasn't the standout I thought it would be. And that said, still, it has enough to carry me through to the ending.
Poor Arizona. That's where I currently reside. We cannot get a break. This movie begins and centers around Arizona, specifically somewhere near Tucson, two hours south of me. It has a boy, well, young man, Ellis, who takes care of his hippie mother and is best buds with bud-producing Goat Man not his real name, but since he's always around the animals he hates, it's been granted to him.
Ellis needs to go to prep school the same one his divorced father went to. And that's far away. Will his Stuck-in-the-60s mother (the always lovely, but never gets the full recognition as she should: Vera Farmiga) survive without her son? Will he get into trouble in school? Will his father reunite with him and if so, will it better him?
The movie does play out in the A-B-C's of Independent Film, but again, there's enough interesting dialogue and characters to move the goats from one side of the script to the next. So, I mildly recommend it with the reservation that I challenge film students to expand on the clichéd tactics of hundreds of movies before them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those stories that you walk away from tempted to think
it was about nothing in particular. I think it's rare a writer or
director sets out to make a film about nothing though and it's just a
question of whether or not you can decipher what it was supposed to be
Our central character, basically a good kid who's mature beyond his years, is unfairly caught up in the acrimony between his divorced parents. His mother appears to be a deeply troubled, self-centred wannabe hippie, who would probably fail any kind of test designed to evaluate fitness to be a parent. We don't see so much of the father although it transpires he left her for another woman at some point, subsequently did very well in business, but became estranged from his son in the process. We later find this isn't the full story though and he's not quite the monster the mother would have him be, though he's far from perfect either.
Suffice to say the boy is at the somewhat derelict, lonely centre of a damaged family, which probably explains why he gravitates towards Goat Man - Duchovny's easy-going stoner who lives with mother and son in exchange for odd jobs, while tending goats on the side.
We join them as the boy's about to leave for college some distance away. He says his goodbyes and embarks on his new life at boarding school, getting into the swing of things, trying to make friends.
What stands out here is the almost total absence of concern or contact from his mother, father, or Goat Man, though the latter at least tries to write to him but his cannabis-laden correspondence is intercepted by the postman.
The boy's repeated attempts to contact his bizarre mother lead him to infer that she now has a new live-in lover, who the boy, like Goat Man and me, takes an instant dislike to.
When eventually his father does get in touch, he's tempted to go and spend thanksgiving with him instead of his mother reflecting his hurt at her lack of concern and his reluctance to ingratiate himself with her new boyfriend. Suffice to say this weekend does not go well and the boy ends up on the wrong side of a somewhat misplaced judgemental rant from his father.
And so the game of emotional ping pong continues...
On returning to school, he unwittingly gets into a fight with his also-troubled room-mate. Yes this poor lad's a proper lightning conductor it seems! It's not all bad news though, the boy's troubles are nicely offset by a burgeoning romance with a girl who works in the canteen. Hurray - he finally gets a break in life ...
Every silver lining has a cloud though and alas, this boy seems fated to be drawn in and brutalised by those dearest to him. Through the course of the movie we see his mother, father, Goat Man, the room-mate, and the burgeoning love interest all betray or wound him.
At least before the end, we see some reconciliation with the room-mate, the father and Goat Man, so you're not left on a total downer. And the whole thing's not handled in an over-sentimental or melancholic way so it's really more of an "up" movie than it sounds.
So for me the over-arching theme was disappointment in those closest to you. Whether that's what was in the minds of the writer/director is another thing entirely.
David Duchovny was great as Goat Man. Tempting to think he's just aping Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski but on closer inspection this character's quite a bit different - I think he does it justice and makes it a believable character.
I liked Graham Phillips as the boy - he underplayed a character that could've easily been OTT emotional and clichéd, but was instead surprisingly likable. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of him, but hopefully not in teen vampire nonsense.
So nothing spectacular or clever here, just an interesting, and in places touching, character study of a boy experiencing an unusual amount of betrayal, hurt and disappointment in his life. It's easy on the eye, well-acted, with some nice locations. All in all definitely worth a watch despite the low reviews.
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