Text Box: DVDSleuth.com

Text Box:   


DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews.


Goats (2012)

Image Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/11/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/15/2012

What do Bigfoot and interesting, intriguing slice-of-life movies have in common? You really see either of them. Most drama/comedies which fall into the slice-of-life category assume that by simply showing semi-realistic situations the audience will like what they see. But, they often forget very important things like characters to which we can relate, motivational drama, and actual humor. You can't just turn on the camera and hope for the best. That's what makes a movie like Goats so special. While the movie has a scope which places it outside of the typical slice-of-life parameters, it's the kind of quiet drama and which sneaks up on you and makes you smile.

In Goats, we meet Ellis Whitman (Graham Philips), a teenager who lives with his mother, Wendy (Vera Farmiga) in Tucson. Wendy is the epitome of a new age hippie lost soul and she spends more time seeking the next path to enlightenment then mothering Ellis. As Ellis' father (Ty Burrell) lives on the East Coast, the boy spends most of his time with Goatman (David Duchovny), the gardener/pool cleaner who actually focuses most of his energy on growing marijuana and walking with this two goats in the desert. Ellis goes behind his mother's back and applies to Gates Academy, the prep school his father attended. He's accepted and, much to Wendy's dismay, Ellis makes the journey to this East Coast bastion of male education. Although hesitant at first, Ellis settles in at Gates and feels at home. He also pays a visit to his father, and sees first-hand that some of his mother's stories about the man may have been exaggerations. These new experiences opens Ellis' eyes to his life in Arizona.

Goats offers an interesting combination of the familiar with some more unique traits. While people are used drawn to things which aren't challenging, in the case of this film, it's the familiar elements which may frighten off potential viewers. I can certainly see some of you saying "Not another prep school movie. Aren't all movies about prep schools?" Or "David Duchovny playing a hippie? No thanks." And yes, the familiar elements here don't offer anything dramatically new. Ellis' experience at Gates Academy is similar to events we've seen in other movies. He's not sure that he'll fit in, but he finds his niche and begins to excel. Wendy is such a misguided hippie that her character is almost a cartoon.

But the magic of Goats is that while it's presenting us with these familiar elements, it's allowing the true nature of the movie to come forward. Many movies are focused on the main character's journey of self-discovery. Goats offers us something very different. For a teenager, Ellis is fairly self-realized. However, as the story progresses, he realizes that he doesn't truly know anyone around him. Having been raised in what was essentially a mini-commune, Ellis has a certain idea about how people look and behave. These ideas are challenged when he goes to Gates and even moreso when he spends time with his father and really gets to know him. Having essentially raised himself, Ellis has a firm grip on who he is, but being away from his mother helps to illustrate how truly narcissistic she is and how, as painful as it is to admit, he may be better off without her. As for Goatman, Ellis realizes that the man who practically raised him falls into an "out of sight, out of mind" mode, and he may be more interested in his goats and his pot than Ellis.

The movie's dramatic highs and lows get a lift from some strong performances. Graham Phillips may appear to be out of his depth at first, but we realize that he's a teenage boy playing a teenage boy. His understated performance, combined with somewhat mumbled dialogue makes the character feel real. Again, Farmiga plays Wendy very broad, but she has to in order to demonstrate just how out of touch this woman is. At first, Duchonvy appears to be playing a hairier version of Hank Moody, but we soon realize that this character has more depth to it. The real revelation here is Ty Burrell who plays a man who is the antithesis to Phil Dunphy.

Quiet character studies typically aren't my kind of movie, but Goats offers enough creativity to familiar ideas to make it worth watching. Don't let the awful title fool you (you may bypass this one thinking it's actually about goats), this is a movie which shows how ambiguous the word "family" can be and makes some nice statements about how heavily influenced children can be when they are in the center of a divorce.

Goats shows that some members of the Postal Service are on top of things on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The image is quite sharp and clear, showing only a slight hint of grain in some of the desert scenes and no defects from the source materials. The movie does a great job of juxtaposing the green grass of Gates Academy to the brown desert of Ellis' home and these colors look very good here. The image is never overly dark or bright. The landscape shots look great and show a nice amount of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a most quiet movie, but we do get some impressive effects at times. The desert-trek scenes provide noticeable stereo effects, and some of the crowd scenes at the school offer audio from the rear speakers. The film's soft-spoken score sounds fine.

The Goats Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. The Disc contains two DELETED SCENES which run just over a minute. "Moments: The Making of Goats" (11 minutes) is not a "making of" featurette in the traditional sense. It's simply comprised of "fly on the wall" on-set footage, mixed in with what look likes clips from the movie. We hear a few comments from Director Christopher Neil, but otherwise, this is all pretty arty. "The Mailman's Lament" (2 minutes) is an odd soliloquy from the mailman character in the film. He simply speaks while reggae music plays. Very weird. This is accompanied by a still frame image. "Home Movies" (3 minutes) gives us an uncut and full-frame look at the 16mm (?) footage shown during the end credits. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long