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  Goats High There
Year: 2012
Director: Christopher Neil
Stars: David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Justin Kirk, Keri Russell, Anthony Anderson, Dakota Johnson, Adelaide Kane, Ty Burrell, Nicholas Lobue, Ronnie Rubalcaba, Alan Ruck, Tommee May, Musashi Alexander, Ana Auther, Olga Segura, Geoff Ellsworth
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ellis (Graham Phillips) grew up in a broken home, as his mother Wendy (Vera Farmiga) refused to allow him to see his father Frank (Ty Burrell), but there were compensations, mostly from the gardener who Ellis always called Goat Man (David Duchovny). He came to see Goat Man as a father figure since he was the only one available to him, and as he grew older he was introduced to the joys of smoking cannabis which always made their frequent treks out into the desert something special. However, Ellis may be content to drift through this life of getting high with no consequences, but Wendy has arranged for him to go to an expensive private school which will change everything...

Goats was adapted from Mark Poirier's novel by himself, and directed by one of the Coppola clan, Christopher Neil, but otherwise had difficulty distinguishing itself from your basic coming of age tale. The individual performing the coming of age may have been a lot better off financially than many of the subjects in this genre, but that was about all that marked him out with his wise beyond his years narration, excelling at his classes and apparently ironic love of the bong which naturally had no detrimental effect on anything else in his day to day journey. It was a good thing star Graham Phillips was adept at not conveying too much in the way of smugness in his portrayal seeing as how Ellis had much to be smug about, and you may have trouble drumming up much sympathy for his plight.

Especially when that plight was so contrived to hit various points of "poor little rich kid" dramatics, rendering the results difficult to care about when there was a dearth of scenes which the general audience could relate to. That was notable when events played out in a special movieland which might have been effective on the page, where suspension of disbelief is a different matter when you are guided through the plot by the author and the author alone, but showed up too many flaws when translated to the screen. It didn't help that Goats was an episodic experience, and one which frequently verged on the self-satisfied, even obnoxious, tending to look down on its characters and invite the viewer to exercise their most judgemental frame of mind in watching it, Ellis excepted.

The mother, for example, was a hippy dippy New Ager and passive aggressive with it, at times just plain aggressive who bears massive grudges: we cannot perceive why Ellis puts up with her until we see the father who is apparently well-meaning but ultimately selfish and has only made the smallest of gestures up to this stage to be part of his son's growing up. Then there's Goat Man, who was intended to be yet another character whose guidance lets Ellis down, and a humorous one as at least he can see through certain degrees of bullshit, but when you got down to it was basically David Duchovny being David Duchovny in a massive wig and stick-on beard - which as if admitting it was a bad idea all along, he loses and ends up looking even more like just himself. When various scenes play out with characters intended to rile Ellis, they're more likely to annoy you than make you laugh or feel your heart go out to him, leaving the impression of one of too many complacent American indies which take an audience for granted. Music by Woody Jackson and Jason Schwartzman (wonder how he got that gig?).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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