Saturday, March 11, 2017

Goat: Movie Review

A story of college fraternity, brotherhood and abuse that misses its mark

Goat may or may not have been intended to show the dangers of college fraternities – and the intense damage that it can cause to individuals physically, emotionally and psychologically, but nonetheless that’s what early viewers of the film picked up on and what most audiences are expecting. The story that Goat actually tells really doesn’t accomplish that, and it doesn’t actually accomplish much. 2016

Directed by: Andrew Neel

Screenplay by: David Gordon Green, Andrew Neel, Mike Roberts
Based on the memoir by Brad Land

Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas

The story centers on Brad (Ben Schnetzer) a good, straight, responsible student. He attends college fraternity parties with his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas), who is less good, straight and responsible. But Brad can let them have their fun and he knows when to stop. And then we have an inciting event; a life-changing tragedy that can send Brad in a completely different direction.

The new direction is only a bit different at first – he goes to college as always intended, goes to the same college as his brother, and then joins his brother’s fraternity. It’s here where we start seeing the real, lasting-effect on Brad and how different he’s become. I’m not entirely certain this was the filmmakers’ intent, but it’s pretty clear that there’s a lot of blame being placed on the fraternity for Brad’s change in behaviour. And the film loses us there. The main incident is technically unrelated to the fraternity and that’s what changes Brad, and would have whether he joined the fraternity or not.

James Franco arrives and adds a bit of life to the party. But this was short-lived and was out-of-place since every other minute of the film was pure drama. From the second scene to the final eerie note, we were not supposed to be having any fun.

The second half of the film examines the conflicts between the new Brad, Brett and the fraternity. Perhaps this is the story the film intended to tell, but it seems so far removed from the earlier misplaced points, that the core of the film seems rather empty. It also doesn’t help that the overly serious drama doesn’t provide much entertainment value.

The world could use a film that shows the dangerous effects of college fraternities, but Goat isn’t it.