By the title alone, Goats already has me intrigued. First thing that pops out is fresh faced actor Graham Phillips who is known by The Good Wife fans as loving son Zach on that show. Phillips plays character of Ellis, with the story of a son who is torn between his parent’s two worlds after their relationship ended, except Ellis is blessed with the father figure of David Duchovny (Californication) as the Goat Man (weird, I know). Goat Man, that is the actual name on IMDB, is a shaggy haired botanist/goat trekker, who works for Ellis’ mother, Wendy, played by Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air). Goat Man seems to step into the father-figure position as Ellis’ biological father Frank (played by the hilarious Ty Burrell, who if you don’t know is from Modern Family, I am saddened for you) leaves Ellis when he was a baby. Shockingly, Frank makes a different family with his new gal, Judy, played by the elegant Keri Russell (Felicity, Waitress). Ellis knows a free-spirited, non-conformist life and now he is leaving for boarding school where his father also went. Wendy experiences empty-nest syndrome, to say the least. Ellis starts to question the new age life his mother and Goat Man have brought him up knowing. He seems to be going back and forth between these two worlds, trying to find his place.
From first glance, this looks like it can be hit or miss, a Juno or a Gigli. I am hoping for the former. The film comes from director Christopher Neil, as his directing debut coming from the acting-coach profession. Goats was also selected during 2012 Sundance Film Festival this past winter. It looks quirky, but heart-warming and also stars some solid actors; Justin Kirk (Weeds), Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street, The Five Year Engagement), Nicholas Lobue (Parenthood), and Anthony Anderson (Law & Order). Goats comes to theaters August 10th.
Watch the trailer:
Having a self-absorbed New Age mother and an estranged father means 15-year-old Ellis Whitman has grown up relying on an unconventional guardian: a goat-trekking, marijuana-growing sage called Goat Man. So when Ellis decides to leave the alternative ways of his desert homestead for a stuffy East Coast prep school, major changes are in store. But not in the way you’d think. Though often stoned, the exceedingly smart and capable Ellis effortlessly aces school and excels at track. As the year progresses, it’s his relationships with the adults in his life that test him, challenging his beliefs about responsibility and trustworthiness.
With its expansive vision of family and passel of delicious oddball characters transposed from screenwriter Poirier’s novel with deadpan naturalism, GOATS wryly balances satire with poignancy and tenderness. Ellis’s eventual disillusionment with his various “parents” forces him to seek and find strength within and to realize the truth about love: it’s never perfect, but it is always there.