Saturday, January 7, 2017

Goat Movie Review

Goat (2016)
Rent Goat on Amazon Video
Written by: David Gordon Green, Andrew Neel, Mike Roberts, Brad Land (memoir)
Directed by: Andrew Neel
Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas, Gus Halper, James Franco
Rated: R

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

The hazing that accompanies pledging his brother's fraternity pushes Brad and his brother Brett to their limits.

This was much better than expected. It explores the culture of hazing and masculinity, questioning how far is too far. It's a fine line that differs for each person. It's not directly condemning fraternities, but the individuals that take pranks too far. Frats are an easy target to explore the theme. They almost by design lack empathy.
It's easy to mistreat people when you don't care about them. When you're supposed to haze your brother, it can be difficult.
Watch it.

Brad (Ben Schnetzer) visits his brother Brett (Nick Jonas) at college. After the party Brad gets robbed and beaten up. The assault is surreal and indulgent, but it puts you in Brad's mind and sets up the rest of the movie.

The cops belittle and blame him, not taking the assault serious. Even Brad wonders why he didn't fight back, questioning what that means about himself. He was scared, and he didn't know what to do. He's been emasculated and is now known as the kid that got jumped.

He decides to pledge his brothers fraternity, maybe to prove he can take it or to just find someplace he can pretend to belong. The frat brothers insult each other, but with what's happened to Brad you know those insults cut a little deeper. Brad was tested and feels like he didn't pass. The others haven't been tested in the same way, but boast about what they would do. Schnetzer does a really good job of conveying emotion. It's partially his acting, but also the directing providing moments to put yourself in his shoes.

Pledge week is similar to Brad's assault. It's demoralizing and in both cases, there is no one to say when it's gone too far. There no one rule for everyone, it's subjective. Brett is concerned for his younger brother, more so than the other pledges. It's easy to mistreat people when you don't know their names, but when it's your brother and you feel partially responsible for his assault, it's difficult for Brett to see the torment his brother endures. This isn't Brett's first time hazing pledges. Brad's assault had an effect on Brett too. Brad is still wondering why he didn't fight back and he's put now in an environment where you don't know whether to fight back. He could be penalized either way.

I wondered how dark this would go. While this feels like an exaggeration, at least from the stories my friends have recounted, sometimes hazing does go awry. When frat brothers tape Brad's roommates face and hands I thought for sure he would suffocate, but he doesn't.

The final few scenes have the fraternity under review. Brad is the main suspect because it was clear from the beginning he didn't fit in. This new round of hazing culminates with Brad facing off against rich frat boy stereotype Chance. The ending doesn't go where I wanted it, but it also doesn't stray from what the movie has established.

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