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3.8 out of 5 stars
Goats
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
"Goats" tracks its main character Ellis Whitman (Graham Phillips), a 15-year-old Arizonan as he leaves the gorgeous desert compound his addled New Age mother Wendy (Vera Farmiga), has decamped to with her trust fund. Ellis has spent much of his early formative years taking treks and toking down with Goat Man, aka Javier, (David Duchovny) with whom he smokes copious amounts of grass and generally hangs out.

Ellis heads to an equally gorgeous New England prep school his own absent straitlaced rich father Frank (Ty Burrell) once attended. In fact, his dad had roomed there with the current headmaster, and so the bar is set high for Ellis. He smokes his courses (cut off from his cannabis connection), meets up with other potheads at the school, runs cross-country after some coercion from the hip track coach, declines a liaison with local dining-hall staffer Minnie (Dakota Johnson), who spends her time reading and making extra money off the student bodies. Ellis initially runs afoul of his father Frank during a terse, tense Thanksgiving, but later the pair find their peace and bond.

Ellis has to decide where to spend summer break, back in Arizona or with his dad, his step mother, and infant half brother.

Well, the critics pretty much gleefully savaged this Sundance film, citing its meandering plot, lack of action, and hybridized comedy-drama tone and comparing the actors and the plot to goats. Cynics are always ready with barbs, but I have to say, this is a fun movie when you don't want 3D special effects, overbearing soundtracks, mutilation and mayhem, and twisted plot lines. In other words, "Goats" affords one the chance to just kick back, watch a story without any secret message or theme. It's just a twisted tale, not a study in realism, about choices, growing up, and growing out. We have all done it in one way or another, and the point here is that there is always a story, even if it is not a cautionary tale or sex romp.

It is not a classic movie, but it is a classic case of what happens when critics drip spleen and venom without considering maybe the point of the movie is to meander. I don't think the goats care one way or another but I enjoyed watching it on a Saturday evening.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2012
Format: DVD
What? I saw this at Sundance, where everyone loved it, then I read a bunch of bad reviews on-line and thought there must be another film called "Goats." I mean, the poster and the DVD cover are kind of cheesy, but the film is really strong.

I watched it again on PPV a few weeks ago and it was as good as I remembered.

Funny and not too boisterous or obvious, this film snuck up on me and the 1500 other people at Sundance, and turned out to be a real charmer. Duchovny is kind of genius as Goat Man, both weird and believable. I liked Justin Kirk a lot, too, and Ty Burrell's nervous restraint is fun to watch.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is quite a different atmosphere for a coming of age story through and around ... Goats? Yes, goats. Christopher Neil directs this film with charming style and abundant laughs. I was trepidatious about renting this one. While this may not be to everybody's liking, it works all the way around for me.

This movie is really about 15 year old Ellis (Graham Phillips) who is surrounded by a most colorful family. He is ready to go his own way from Tucson to Gates Prep School on the East Coast, the same school his father, Frank (Ty Burrell), went to before him and the area where he has been living now.

His mother, whom he calls Wendy by name, (Vera Farmiga, who shines in this) is a mix of the spiritual and New Age philosophies floating around in her own self-absorbed reality bubble. If you can rope in Wendy's personality in a couple of sentences you are far better spoken than I.

Goat Man (David Duchovny) or Javier, take your pick, is a 'botanist' and an experienced goat-trekker, who is hired by Wendy to keep up the place along with her. Residing in the pool house, he tends to his ever growing garden and ... goats. These two have raised Ellis in an offbeat style, along with a huge amount love. Once you do get to know them they quickly become very genuine.

Quite simply, Ellis leaves for school and is greeted with an alternate way of life that he easily learns to excel in. While there, he meets up with his father for the first time in years of absence. Frank has been avoiding his ex-wife Wendy.

Frank is re-married to Judy (Keri Russell) now, with a baby brother on the way. Their lifestyle is easily recognizable as affluent. While Ellis' father may first appear emotionally vacant, Judy (being much younger) is right on target with Ellis and readily able to befriend him to bridge the gap between father and son.

Wendy stays behind with Goat Man and takes up with a new jealous lover, Bennett (Justin Kirk - perfect in this). He screens every call and doesn't give Ellis' messages to Wendy, he wouldn't, being that he is a convincingly arrogant prig enjoying keeping Wendy to himself. They lose touch, because of his interference, and Wendy loses control going more into her spiritual side, well, her altogether self (?)

In this film, watch a Thanksgiving dinner (ala Wendy) take on new meaning with Goat Man, Bennett and several others present. Ellis chooses to go to Frank's home ... Wendy didn't get that phone call either.

*Also included is a nice cameo appearance with Minnie Driver if you catch it.

This indie film plays out as one set-up after another onto some depth and hilarity, in a much more subtle way than being hysterical. Like the other reviewers, I agree with the 'sit back and enjoy' theme of Ellis' journey to find himself. This movie is one that you wouldn't need to overthink, analyze or anything, but laugh.

As far as Goat Man ... "He knows the desert well and he'll be fine"

{If there is any questioning of the Minnie Driver cameo, while streaming you can catch a great shot of her at 01:34:05. She is also listed on IMDb as a Shaman, uncredited}
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Great film, acting was amazing. Nice to see David Duchoveny again. Vera Formiga and the young boy were equally excellent.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A very entertaining film, which I would highly recommend. Filmed in the Tucson area and very well made. I assume it is R for the use of weed, but would be fine for teens.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I really liked it, I read the reviews and watched the trailer before renting it. But I dont see why people would pan it. Great acting, strong pacing. I was interested throughout the entire movie and I really just enjoyed watching things unfold. The acting was stellar, everybody was really believable (I almost forgot Duchovny was Duchovny and I hated the mom's bf - as I was supposed to).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
Format: DVD
There is one thing I really disliked about this film and I'll say that and get it off my chest and move on to the good stuff. I hated the really ignorant way that "New Age" people were depicted. True, there are fools in any group but to characterize the many serious people who are attempting to find a higher spiritual way of life in the way this film does is offensive. I turned the film off after about 45 minutes just because of this.

However I did turn it back on the next night and found that it managed to rise above the stereotypes it created in the beginning. Not only were the New Agers ripped apart but the East Coast "strait" guy who went to Prep School was intially dismissed as an uptight jerk. The only sympathetic character was "Goat Man" the resident hippie, who somehow escaped being lumped in with the New Agers and, due to his massive consumption of home grown pot, was Mister Mellow. Having spent considerable time in that area of the world with spiritual seekers and pot growers I think that there are some serious misconceptions about all of them.

However, moving on....I did like the lead character, Ellis Whitman, played by a wonderful young actor, Graham Phillips, enough to tune back in to see what happened to him after he left Arizona and went back east to attend the same Prep School that his hated dad had attended. This is not very well explained since it's obvious that Ellis isn't at all fond of the man who apparently deserted him early on. He has grown up with his mother, Wendy, (played beautifully by the wonderfully charming Vera Farmiga,)a ditzy, childish, self-centered but very rich woman and her landscaper/pool cleaner guy, Javier, aka Goat Man. Goat Man is the surrogate father figure and has given Ellis a great deal of love as well as dope.

The contrast between the two cultures gives a certain amount of humour and provides the grist for the mill of Ellis' maturation. The film does a good job of showing how the fellow navigates between the worlds of both parents and that of Goat Man. Ellis is surprisingly wise and resilient as he faces one challenge after another. He learns, as we all have to, that no one is all good or all bad. His flakey mom, in spite of her faults really does love him. His straightlaced dad comes through, too. And the hallowed Goat Man is shown to have his own shortcomings. This is done very well without being too obvious or preachy.

The cinematography is great. The area outside of Tuscon shimmers in that magical desert light. I loved the shots of Wendy's home....a hippie's dream! Likewise the Prep School is lovingly shot...beautiful Spring trees in blossom and green lawns. The staff at the school is first seen as annoying but they come around, too, and help Ellis find himself. The pot that Goat Man has tried to send to Ellis never comes through and he is forced to go out for track and finds that he is a pretty good runner. There is an interesting subplot -- an almost-romance with a pretty, blond, town girl. I thought the film handled it very nicely. I liked Ellis' room mate, too....another stock character who manages to rise above his "type."

This is a low key, pleasant film that entertains us while telling a very believable tale of how a young boy grows into himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
In this American indie film from 2012 we meet Ellis Graham Philips) who is fifteen and about to go to prep school; the same one his estranged father went to. He lives in Tucson with his hippy mother and a stoner, gardener/ handy man – Goatman- played by David Duchovny. They treck with goats, smoke locally grown weed and generally ‘hang out’; that is while his mum is off sorting out her chakra, making sure her ying and yang are in harmony and practicing primal screams.

He has to leave for school and is actually academically quite talented. The problems with prep school is no dope and worse still he has to re contact with his father – which will not go down at all well with hippy mom as she has a less than flattering pet name for her erstwhile hubby. He is soon finding his feet and friends at school but whilst missing Goatman he is also re- evaluating himself and those around him. This then is a coming of age comedy drama.

The term comedy has to be seen in the widest sense as it is more amusing in the making you smile department as opposed to laugh out loud funny. The acting is all quite good. Vera Farmiga (‘Source Code and ‘The Departed’) is surprisingly convincing as the hippy mom and brings a lot of energy to the role. The goats are great too. This is a gentle drama which if it catches you in the right mood can only warm the cockles of your heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I hardly recognized David Duchovny in the beginning of this quirky film. I ended up watching it twice to better figure out the characters and their relationships to each other -- not your typical nuclear family situation, to say the least. Kinda drags in certain places (like the side trip to Mexico...) and has stereotypical portrayals (the stoner, the ranting, new age mom, the uptight, preppy dad, etc.), but it has its nice moments too. Good rental for a laid back afternoon viewing...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I really enjoyed this movie. It was very funny - laugh out loud funny at many moments. It also got a bit awkward/uncomfortable in the middle (which I normally don't like), but I think that helped make the ending more poignant. I totally recommend it.
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