This is a beautiful mess of a movie. If you like a ton of half-developed plots and broad acting, and if you think that anything and everything to do with pot is funny/brilliant then Goats is the movie for you! If you’re willing to sit through a series of interrelated, but not particularly connected little episodes, in exchange for seeing some of them set in beautiful southwestern locals, then this is a movie you might enjoy. If not, just skip it.
I don’t want to say that it’s a bad movie. It’s a fairly ho-hum coming of age movie. Graham Phillips plays the lead character, Ellis, and injects a decent amount of charisma into a character who’s only two discernible character traits are an obsession with marijuana and academic brilliance. I can only assume that this is how writer Mark Poirier remembers his own teenage self. However, given that the character is the narrator, so we should really be able to get inside his head, we really don’t get much of what’s below the surface of Ellis, it’s almost like the character exists only to provide us with a perspective or the various adults in his life.
If you’ve seen the trailer, much of the focus is on David Duchovny’s “Goat Man” and he’s a major character. Well, at least Ellis tells us he’s important, and he gets a lot of screen time, but aside from being Ellis’ weed supply, he could almost be deleted from the movie without changing any of the rest of the story. He’s sort of just passively there. Of course, this is probably supposed to contrast with the raving-loon hippie chraracter played by Vera Farmiga. I think she’s supposed to be funny, but really was just annoying.
On the other hand, Ty Burrell is fantastic as Ellis’ dad, at about the half-way point the film looks like it is going to develop into a really interesting story about a son bonding with his buttoned-downed estranged father, and contrasting that to his surrogate father-figure, Goat Man. That might have been an interesting movie. Unfortunately, it’s only one of about five plot-lines that the film pays some attention to, but mostly can’t commit to.
This is supposed to be a coming of age story, but it doesn’t really tell one. It doesn’t succeed as a comedy, or as a drama or as a dramady. It has its moments, but it doesn’t really do anything with those moments. Maybe there’s a lesson in there. Maybe it reminds us that coming of age that happens, whether you have some big life-changing experience or just a series of slightly-memorable things that happened. You wake up one day and realize you’re grown up. Unfortunately, I don’t really think that that is what the movie is going for. It’s not worth seeing.