Review: 'Old Goats' Is a Missed Opportunity

Old Goats

What are we left with after our youth has fled? That's the question posed by writer/director Taylor Guterson's Old Goats, and it's a good place to start a film. Unfortunately, that strong beginning eventually fades behind a lumbering, unfocused dramedy that, even at 94 minutes, manages to feel too long.

Which is a terrible shame, because aside from a few token releases that keep actors like Robert Duvall and Hal Holbrook busy while paying (often token) tribute to the fact that life goes on after 40, Hollywood has never had much patience for senior citizens as main characters -- even if you count recent dreck like Stand Up Guys and Last Vegas, which substitute Viagra gags for insight. It's no wonder Gene Hackman and Sean Connery have wandered off into retirement.

It's tempting to wonder what Hackman and Connery might have done with Guterson's Old Goats script, which is neither as crude nor as lively as its title might suggest. The movie centers on a trio of aging men: Bob, Britt, and Dave, played by Bob Burkholder, Britton Crosley, and David VanderWal. That the actors have the same names as their characters is a nifty touch that allows Guterson to periodically slip some reality into the picture (Burkholder's character is writing a memoir, which gives Guterson an excuse to flash vintage pictures of the actor as a young man), but it really isn't germane to the story; basically, this is a movie that mostly revolves around people talking, and although it happens to take place at a semi-fateful moment for its three main characters, it would probably be overstating things to say that the plot goes much of anywhere. Or that there is a plot, really.

As the movie opens, Dave and Bob have kicked off a friendship after meeting up at a senior exercise class. The recently retired Dave, at a loss for what to do with his life and looking for excuses to spend less time at home with his perpetually irritated wife, falls in with Bob's crowd, including Britt, a recently retired mechanic whose plans to sail off in the boat he's called home for three decades offer something of a launching point for the film.

It's a fine framework for a movie, and at first, Old Goats seems promising, offering a lot of deftly naturalistic, understated acting, dialogue that doesn't feel like dialogue, and some moments of real poignancy. But Guterson doesn't really know what to do with them, and by the midpoint, it's obvious that this is one of those movies you spend 90 minutes waiting to begin.

Nothing about Goats is unpleasant; in fact, one wishes these three had more opportunities to carry a film. But with nowhere to go and no real urgency to get there, it's ultimately more of a dull disappointment than the flash of tender insight it should have been.

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About Jeff Giles

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Jeff is an entertainment writer and editor whose work currently appears at a variety of sites, including Rotten Tomatoes, Paste, American Songwriter, Popdose, Dadnabbit, Diffuser, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

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