Each member of Ellis’s unconventional family contributes their own unique piece of the puzzle by helping fit together all of the nooks and crannies in Ellis’s life. Mostly a coming-of-age story, Goats features treks across a beautiful desert backdrop, one gnarly bearded David Duchovny, and charming moments. While the film was slow and uneventful, the dynamic characters, disgruntled family relationships, and humorous situations makes Goats worth the watch.
Based off Mark Poirier’s best selling novel, Goats tells the story of 15-year-old Ellis (Phillips) and his encounters with his eccentric family. Despite living in Arizona with his spiritual mother (Farmiga), her fleeting boyfriends, and their pothead pool boy Goatman (Duchovny), he soon moves to the east coast to attend the same prep school his father (Burrell) once attended. While enjoying his new school, Ellis travels to his estranged father’s house in Washington DC. During the visit he meets his new stepmother (Russell), who also happens to be pregnant with Ellis’s half brother. But when Ellis returns home to meet his mother’s new boyfriend (Justin Kirk) for Christmas, nothing is quite where he’d left it.
Despite a relatively uneventful plot, Goats is most notable for its appreciation of the little things in life. For example, Goatman trek’s through the Arizona desert with his goats. He explains that he really doesn’t do anything profound on his journeys, but believes each are important for both him and the goats. Ellis’s mother, Wendy, is always off galavanting on some new spiritual craze, trying to become more one with herself. And Ellis uses his excellent class performance and high grades to prove that smoking pot is good for his psyche. Goats goes to show that there’s more to life than taking the conventional path, for finding out who you are is the path to happiness.
An Intricate Cast
Goats was a hodgepodge of recognizable actors playing unrecognizable characters. Justin Kirk is best known as the lovable, sarcastic, and charming Andy on Weeds, but it was interesting to see him as Wendy’s irritating, obnoxious, and moronic boyfriend, Bennett. Ty Burrell, who plays Phil Dunphy on the hilarious sitcom Modern Family, had the biggest transformation. As Ellis’ father, whom he hasn’t seen it years, it was weird to see Burrell as an uncomfortable parent when he is usually such a kid himself. His acting was genuine, but there were definitely some hints of Phil tucked in.
David Duchovny will always be agent Mulder from the X-Files for me, but his portrayal of Goatman really stole the show. Providing life lessons, a positive attitude and, most importantly, dank bud, Goatman was an uninhibited and often hilarious father figure for Ellis. Duchovny geared more towards his role as cynical novelist Hank on Californication; however, Goatman deals with different life obstacles than that of Hank. It’s also important to note that although Duchovny is 52-years-old, it was pretty hard for me to take my eyes of his strangely muscular body and that beard.
In an interview with Collider, Duchovny had this to say about his new look:
I liked the idea of having a mask and having the freedom of not looking the way I do, so I could maybe even feel differently, and that’s exactly what happened. It can happen with any kind of physical transformation that you get to do, as an actor. Sometimes you can work outside in. It sounds superficial, but I don’t think it is. You put the clothes on, you style your hair, and you do whatever it is that that character is described as or you’ve decided him to be, and then you look in the mirror and you start to feel differently about yourself. You start to feel like that guy might feel.
Goats drops you off into nothingness and then takes you back out. In the beginning, the conflict arises when Ellis moves away from home, but then the story drags. While there are relationships explored, travels to new places, and experiences of new things, Goats failed to deliver a beginning, middle, and end. The ending was just a stopping point for the middle, nothing was quite resolved, and I certainly had some unanswered questions.
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
Buy it, Rent it, or Skip it?
Goats is worth seeing but isn’t for all audiences. Despite some great characters and dysfunctional family relationships, the story aspect is really lacking. Sure, the pace is slow, the ending is unsatisfying, and there’s nothing must-see worthy, but it’s certainly an enjoyable film. Goats is fun, but may be disappointing for viewers who want a more in-depth plot.
‘Goats’ Movie Trailer: