Ellis (Graham Phillips) is an intellectual teenager who also likes to get high quite regularly. He is getting ready to move to the East coast of the United States to attend the prep school his father once went to. He leaves behind in Tucson his New Age mother Wendy (Vera Farmiga) and the only male who has been there throughout his life so far, a goat-herder called “Goat Man” (David Duchovny). Whilst he continues to excel at his school work, he struggles to grasp his new surroundings and begins to reassess what he really wants. Lessons about life and love can only be learnt by giving them a try.
It’s very rare we see goats used regularly in movies, much less as a metaphor for what is happening in the story. However, in Goats this is precisely how the film is orchestrated to be played out. It’s a slow progressive coming of age drama that we have seen millions of times before. But it still tugs at some of the more familiar heart strings of leaving the family home and how life is once you remove yourself from the safety net.
The pace could have done with being picked up quicker and given us something more the grasp onto than just Ellis’. Alongside that story we continued to be privy to Wendy’s life and also Goat-Man’s alternate lifestyle. Each one of them has the odd chuckle and interesting moment but neither capture anything that made us want to explore further. When all the characters are together, sat round the table having a meal, it’s some of the best moments in Goats. It’s the enjoyable mismatch of them all, but by coming together making one safe and funny family.
Vera Farmiga is rather waif in her portrayal of a hippy/New Age mother.There isn’t enough likeability or angst coming off her to really care about Wendy as a character. Graham Phillips does a respectable job as Ellis, his best moments come when enjoying time with his school friends as they are upbeat and joyful.
Thankfully David Duchovny is the complete winner throughout the entire film and made us yearn for him onscreen more. His likeable, laid back goat-man is constantly enjoyable and funny, we laughed so hard when he tries to be the aggressive guy and struggles. A whole film about his life would have suited us much better.
So what is this metaphor that Goats is trying to purvey? That we are being pulled along on a rope by our masters/parents until one day that rope is no longer attached and it’s up to us to seek out the world. Sadly the film fails to issue a resounding idea on life for all ages. Instead it plays out three different stories that never connect. All would have been better played as individual films. It’s a respectable comedic drama, but just don’t expect anything to revelatory.