|Index||8 reviews in total|
I screened #GOAT starring #BenSchnetzer and #NickJonas and although the
hazings in the film can get over the top, one can't help but wonder if
hazings in real life frat out there can really get that violent,
especially since the college I attended didn't have Greek houses so I
never personally experienced pledges. But GOAT has its own way of
rattling your comfort zone. The psychological pain the characters
inflict on each other is more disturbing than last year's "The Stanford
Directed by Andrew Neel, in GOAT, Ben Schnetzer's character, Brad Land earlier on in the story goes through an initial violence so traumatizing that it pretty much sets up his motivation throughout the entirety of this film. He joins his brother Brett's (Nick Jonas) fraternity and as the pledging ritual moves into hell week, the stakes grow more violent, more humiliating, and more torturous, all in the name of brotherhood, or is Brad trying to prove something else? Based on Brad Land's memoir, co-written by Andrew Neel, David Gordon Green and Mike Roberts, the film deals with the questions of which rites of passage are worth taking and which ones are not and where do you draw the line. There are plenty of hazings in this film, you really don't know what to expect because each of them is shocking in its own way, it becomes ingrained in Brad's psyche or his belief that this may be what is needed to be done for him to punish himself for the earlier event that victimized him. And to some of these brothers, this frat life has become all they know, this is all they have, they think it's the center of the universe so if you go against it, then consequences ensue. It's very intriguing to see Brad and this brotherhood collide and the effect they have on each other.
GOAT is not a college comedy, it shows the darker, harsher side of what college life can offer. It's raw, unforgiving, and it punches you in the gut. You will feel uncomfortable watching GOAT and that is one of the film's main goals. I'd be very interested to see a featurette or behind-the-scenes videos showing how they shot some of the hazing scenes, just to see how the actors mentally prepped for them. I'd like to believe that GOAT doesn't necessarily intend on demonizing frat or Greek houses, I'm sure there are many brotherhoods out there that don't go over the line in their rituals but it does show that when we join a group, any group, it's best to analyze whether or not that group would be beneficial for our personal growth given our previous life experiences.
-- Rama's Screen --
This film tells the story of a young man who gets brutally attacked by
two strangers. He then goes to college, joins a fraternity house, and
gets transformed into a different person.
There has been a lot of films that portrays fraternity houses to be super fun, but finally there is a film that shows that fraternity houses may not be as rosy as it appear. The story focuses on the initiation week, where new recruits are humiliated and even tortured. It is scary to see what happens in the film, even though the tone of the film is not too dark. The level of subhuman behaviour is terrifying, because the abuse is legitimised by "tradition".
"Goat" tells a compelling story of abuse, abused and abuser. It lets people reflect on what is right and what is wrong. Let's hope this film will find more audience.
This film gets 90-percent of the way there. As a story of the
relationship between two brothers, during a stressful time in the life
of one, it's poignant and wonderful. To a discerning eye Goat's setting
in a fraternity will come across, through most of the film, merely as
set dressing for the underlying story, rather than an indictment of
fraternity life generally. And at that level it works beautifully.
Unfortunately, the last twenty minutes of the film flips into an
anti-fraternity rant that, while not exactly coming out of nowhere,
could have been better left on the cutting room floor. Nonetheless,
Goat is a powerful and emotional film that, in this reviewer's mind, is
touching, as opposed to disturbing as some have called it.
The character development in Goat, beyond the two brothers, is minimal but the level of vague ambiguity it creates works perfectly in helping focus attention on their relationship.
Nick Jonas' acting chops were a wonderful surprise. Ben Schnetzer and Gus Halper also deliver unrelentingly powerful performances.
James Franco's sudden, albeit brief, appearance, is a little out-of-place and the presence of his character somewhat unrealistic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When a film ends with a wide shot of a person standing in a field, the
sunlight in the background casting a beautiful haze across the sky as
it sets, most get a sense there is hope for the next day. There is a
newness that lingers for the viewer even after the scene disappears
into a black screen filled with post credits. "Goat" ends this way, but
what lingers afterward is not hope or newness. Director Andrew Neel, a
brilliant and clever filmmaker, creates a world in which these
attributes try to supersede chaos, but don't have the chance to do so.
Brad Land's true, and heartbreaking, experience at the hand of two strangers violently pulls the audience into the film. Juxtaposed to this brutality is a different scene with equal force: a party that involves the stereotypical aspects of many fraternity gatherings. As Brad (Ben Schnatzer) attempts to cope with his trauma, distance builds within the Land family, until Brad's brother Brett (Nick Jonas) encourages Brad to come to college with him and pledge his fraternity. There, Brad might find real family and even become a real man, one that can take care of himself. Initially, Brad resists, but chooses to make an attempt at moving forward. However, to truly live the life, Brad has to become one of the brothers, and this means suffering through Hell Week for the new pledges. This experience becomes a nightmare, not only for Brad, but also for the audience.
The trauma of the movie's initial violence is surpassed by the violence of the brothers. The audience endures this pain for much of the movie with the young men, cringing and gasping as those on the screen bear the brunt. The goat, and the horrific implications that come with it, is brought in as the last rite of passage. However, this act is the last straw for Brett, who initially joined his brothers in hazing but soon became disillusioned as he watches his brother endure further physical torture. Ultimately, both brothers have to make a decision about the fraternity, and the movie teases closure, but alas not quite.
Come back to the closing scene. Brad stands in a field, looking off into the distance. His relationship with his brother - unstable, his own sanity - shaken, and his future - uncertain. Sometimes, when the character stands in the field, the only need is for the audience to be bold enough to admit they see the chaos and choose not to be passive in their reaction. Though the movie lacked, on a personal note, clear intent or a distinct opportunity for resolution, the mess that is Goat is worth carrying around for a while.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the story of the experiences of two brothers who join the same
college fraternity, one year apart. I think that it did not take much
talent to come up with the story. Start off with a violent beating of
the younger brother to get the audience's attention, emphasize the
hazing events during hell week, toss in some sibling interactions, and
end with the fallout from a tragic consequence of the hazing. The
acting is pedestrian and there is such a lack of depth to the
characters that it is difficult to care about them. The deepest
conversation goes along the lines of, "Hey man, how's it going?"
followed by "Fine."
The "based on true events" comment at the beginning does not add much value, since what is presented does not go beyond stereotypical material.
Several years ago I read the book "Goat Brothers" by Larry Colton. I thought this movie might be based on that book, but, aside from the one small part of the book dealing with hell week, they are miles apart. The book traces the lives of five fraternity brothers over a period of twenty-five years and, opposed to "Goat," you wind up really knowing them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Physical and Mental Abuse | Vomiting | Blood
Review (with Spoilers)
There is a certain mystique to fraternities. On one hand, they are the source of parties, they make it seem like their network will do more than get you a good job but also attractive girls, and for that, you'd do anything right? Well, this movie goes into that but with the name James Franco attached, a red flag if you don't see the name Seth Rogen anywhere, you have to wonder if this is to be taken seriously or will the sensationalism Franco is known for when involved, will it kill its depth?
Brad (Ben Schnetzer) | Brett (Nick Jonas) | Will (Danny Flaherty) | Dixon (Jake Picking) | Leah (Virginia Garnder)
In one way it is about following in his brother's footsteps and in another it is about all a frat seemingly guarantees. That is the reason behind Brad wanting to join Brett's fraternity. After all, as Will points out, how else will the average dude find himself having sex with beautiful women, invited to the biggest parties, and not spend college as some sort of weird guy right?
Problem is, not just anyone can get into a frat for on top of those benefits, there is also the prestige, the network frats have, and who wants just any single bugger becoming a brother. Enter Dixon, the pledge master, who is tasked with filtering out the goats trying to get into Phi Sigma Mu. Though his methods aren't universally agreed upon and become tragic.
To my surprise, the cast in this film all play memorable roles. Not to the point you'd want to explore their filmographies, but like with the case of Flaherty who I automatically associate with Skins (US), I'd imagine if you see most of the actors in something after this film you'd remember them as that guy from GOAT.
Strangely, Women Aren't Trashed That Much
Granted, outside of Leah, there isn't any woman in this film who shows up more than once. However, considering this is a film about college, much less with frats, it was a pleasant surprise that we weren't treated to an HBO styled movie which just had a parade of nameless naked girls one set of breast and ass cheeks one after another.
It Seems Like It Should Have Some Emotional Depth But Doesn't
The synopsis on IMDb notes how Brad is reeling from a "terrifying assault." Yet, after the wounds heal, you don't get this sense of terror. Well, perhaps not the way you think he should react. Being abused by Dixon and crew doesn't trigger him, he just sucks it up. When he meets a bunch of frat brothers, who honestly look about the weight and size of those who beat the hell out of him, there is no suspicion. His way of dealing with things is in silence. A common way to handle things but being that there is so much you see that should, and could, affect him, it is like this assault become an afterthought to the story, only remembered because the pledge story needs to be paused for effect.
But even when you set aside Brad and look at Brett or even Will, again it is like there should be something deeper here. Now, with Brett you do see guilt and some kind of emotion, but between Jonas or the writing, it doesn't take you to the point of truly feeling something. You recognize his emotions but they don't hit you in a way to make you too feel something.
Which leads us to Will. He has no one, no brother, no friends, no girlfriend. His story, arguably, seems like the one which should not only hit hard but also be the primary focus. Yet, he is in the background. We see the abuse, him taking it for he wants all the fraternity can offer him, but with him not being the focus, but rather the bigger names of Nick Jonas and the person playing his brother, the one person who honestly could make you feel something is largely ignored.
On The Fence
You Understand The Motive
Strength in numbers, opportunities to get laid, parties, protection, brotherhood, and not having to experience college, much less living on campus, alone All of this leads you to understand why all of these pledges go through the abuse they do. Though I must admit, even with this film likely green lit because of its notoriety, and the mystique frats have, it would have been nice if there was a stronger presence of brotherhood, the charity frats do, and some positives. If only to balance things out a bit. They could have even mentioned other frats which do that and just make it seem Phi Sigma Mu was slipping.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
Admittedly, this was better than expected. Perhaps one of the most interesting movies I've watched in a few weeks. However, the pushed aside vulnerability, the sole focus being hell week and it seeming like this was more about the acts than the people and frat life in general, it what makes this rated as "Mixed."
I have to admit that I decided to watch this film because of Jealous
singer Nick Jonas!
I do not know Nick from his Disney days ( I guess he acted then) or from his Jonas Brothers days but I do know him for some of the songs and I wanted to see how is he as an actor. And to be honest, I think he is good. But again, I do not think that this kind of a film requires A list actors.
Anyway, the film is interesting. It does keep your attentions and makes you wonder if all these things really happen is some schools in America? I guess it is so as it is based on true events.
The beginning and the ending of the film are kinds let down... The beginning is kinda slow, the ending is not 'closing'. But it is not boring and I guess that is what matters.
All the actors were kinda good in their roles.
All in all, not bad. I rate it 7!
Goat starts off similar to such frat boy slapstick comedies as Animal
House or the more recent Everybody Wants Some, but nowhere near as
funny and entertaining, unless you count a ridiculous overblown cameo
from James Franco as man in his mid-thirties who saw the best years of
his life as being in the frat, which is why he shows up to say high
once in a while. Off the bat the movie did show a tone that said it was
going to be something different from the fun and games of Frat life.
And the tone definitely sets up for the dark mood change. The second most famous person in this film, Nick Jonas, has a supporting role as a frat boy who was already semi-questioning the whole thing when his brother pledges during hell week, and it's not sitting well having to watch him going through the sick disturbing things they make them do.
Goat, works to expose the harshness and the dangers of Hazing. It does a great job of giving a pretty no holds barred look at one of college's oldest traditions.
But other than this view of how dark and disturbing the male bonding process can get, the movie has very little in a narrative story.
Goat, acts like a document on something based on true events. You'll get nothing from it, no lesson learned, only the ugly truth on frat hazing.
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