Sundance Journal: ‘Goats’

While the film isn’t terrible, the one thing that I walked away with after seeing ‘Goats’ was the desire to never watch another coming-of-age tale again. The things that work in the film are the characters. What doesn’t work is the generic, by-the-book, seen-it-one-hundred-times-before story.

Ellis seems like a fairly normal kid, which is the opposite of what you’d expect from his upbringing. His hippie, New Age mother (Vera Farmiga) scared off his father (Ty Burrell) many years earlier and now only refers to him as “Fucker Frank.” Ellis’ best friend is the family’s groundskeeper known simply as “Goatman.” Goatman (David Duchovny) lives in the pool house, smokes pot all day, keeps a bunch of goats on the property and, with long hair and a long beard, resembles a goat.

Everyone in Ellis’ life seems overly self-absorbed. Goatman is the closest thing he’s got to a father and a friend, yet he only cares about himself. His mother is so wrapped up in her wacky lifestyle that she’s irresponsible. And Ellis hasn’t even seen or heard from Fucker Frank in ages. At age 15, Ellis is the most grown-up and responsible person in his life.

When Ellis heads to the East Coast to attend an elite private school, he realizes how self-serving his friends and family have been all along. Attending school close to Fucker Frank’s home, his dad now wants him to be part of his life and his new little family, including his pregnant wife (Keri Russell).

Like I said, the characters make ‘Goats’ worth watching. Unfortunately, the predictable, clich√©-filled story offers zero originality. Watching great characters do the same thing we’ve seen others do before them doesn’t make for a satisfying film.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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