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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GOATS -- DVD review by porfle

When David Duchovny left "The X-Files" for a movie career, I'm sure one of his fondest dreams was to play "Goat Man" in a movie called GOATS (2012).  Or not. 

Looking like a cross between Billy Gibbons and Gabby Hayes, Duchovny plays an overaged dope-smoking slacker who came to clean the pool and never left.  Now he's the live-in surrogate father and mentor for 15-year-old Ellis (Graham Phillips) and a companion for Ellis' wacky, dissolute New Age mom Wendy (Vera Farmiga), who lives off a perpetual trust fund in a hacienda in the Arizona desert.

Growing up with these two delirious hipster-doofuses, there's no way Ellis would be as well-adjusted as he seems to be, especially with Javier (Goat Man's semi-real name) feeding him lungfuls of weed at every turn and taking him on "goat treks."  But the kid wants to go to prep school, the same one his father attended in fact, and seems to be a bit of a genius.  He even wants to get to know his estranged dad Frank (Ty Burrell) over his mom's strenuous objections, and meet Frank's new wife Judy (Keri Russell), now pregnant with Ellis' new half-brother.

We're supposed to care about Ellis as he deals with the various disparate influences that are trying to dominate his life, but he never seems to get all that upset about anything and indeed doesn't really have it all that bad.  His main conflict, in fact, is with his overweight, insecure roommate Barney (Nicholas Lobue), whose biggest problem is a somewhat neglectful mom.  Ellis' mom Wendy may be an insufferable nut but she loves him, and his dad never really abandoned him but was forced out of his life by a spiteful Wendy. 

Frank, it turns out, is a pretty cool guy even though he's a bit overly protective and straightlaced, and Ellis seems slightly confused because Frank's conservative lifestyle is somewhat attractive to him after years of bong hits and goat treks.  This constitutes pretty much the extent of the main conflict in GOATS, so as far as that goes, it's a dramatically bland movie.  Which leaves us with the comedy.

Wendy's over-the-top New Ageism supplies us with a few fairly hearty chuckles as she chatters about spirit guides, "healing vortex" workshops, primal screaming, and veggie Thanksgiving dinners with tofu turkeys.  But she tends to get rather annoying after an hour-and-a-half of this, and she also comes off as a fairly spiteful bitch when we discover how she has deliberately alienated Ellis from his dad all those years. 

As for Goat Man, a little of his character goes a long way, especially when he's roaming around naked (I saw as much of Duchovny as I needed to on "The Larry Sanders Show").  Humorwise, the movie is at its most fun during the conflicts between Goat Man and Wendy's latest romantic interest, Bennet (Justin Kirk), a slimey, conceited gigolo trying to weasel his way into her bank account.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.40:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras include a brief making-of featurette, deleted scenes, a trailer, "Home Movies", and something called "The Mailman's Lament" (audio only). 

A mildly amusing and, at times, blandly wistful story about the not-so-earth-shaking experiences of a pampered prep-school brat, GOATS is a take-it-or-leave-it flick that I wouldn't go out of my way to either see or avoid.  It helps, though, if you enjoy watching an inordinately hirsute David Duchovny cavorting with goats in his birthday suit.

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