Sundance 2012 Review: GOATS with David Duchovny

For me, the main selling-point of Goats is the fact that it stars David Duchovny, and I normally enjoy watching the stuff he does. Other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about the movie. He plays a hippy-like scientist they call "Goat Man" who goes out on these little goat-trekking travels. He's not the main focus of the film, but he has a pivotal role in the story.

The movie was good, but it wasn't great, and it didn't blow me away. I'm not even really sure if I was satisfied with it. I guess if I have to question that I must not have been. It was just a nice little coming of age story about a 15-year-old kid named Ellis trying to find himself in the world and situation he's being raised in. His decision to go to a east coast prep school changes everything. Duchovny plays a family friend that lives in the guesthouse, cleans the pool, does the gardening, and grows pot. He is the main male influence in this boy's life because he's had limited engagement with his father as a result of divorce.

The acting in the film was solidly good, Duchovny was the best part of the movie. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) played the Ellis' mom in the film and her character annoyed the hell out of me. Maybe that's what they were trying to do, if so it worked, but it didn't help the film. Then there is Graham Phillips who played Ellis, and he actually played the role very well. The film was directed by Christopher Neil from a script written by Mark Jude Poirier, based on his novel.

This is one of those films I feel I never have to see again, and I know I won't. I also feel I didn't really have to see the film in the first place. It-s a hard film to recommend because I just don't think most of you will like it. Unfortunately, even though the film was written and directed well, the story was forgettable. 

Here's the Synopsis:

Having a self-absorbed New Age mother and an estranged father means 15-year-old Ellis Whitman has grown up relying on an unconventional guardian: a goat-trekking, marijuana-growing sage called Goat Man. So when Ellis decides to leave the alternative ways of his desert homestead for a stuffy East Coast prep school, major changes are in store. But not in the way you’d think. Though often stoned, the exceedingly smart and capable Ellis effortlessly aces school and excels at track. As the year progresses, it’s his relationships with the adults in his life that test him, challenging his beliefs about responsibility and trustworthiness.

With its expansive vision of family and passel of delicious oddball characters transposed from screenwriter Poirier’s novel with deadpan naturalism, GOATS wryly balances satire with poignancy and tenderness. Ellis’s eventual disillusionment with his various “parents” forces him to seek and find strength within and to realize the truth about love: it’s never perfect, but it is always there.

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