MTV isn’t incorrect in billing Goat as a “Nick Jonas and James Franco fraternity movie.” But that tagline doesn’t quite hint at the film’s true tone, as the trailer doesn’t call to mind the raunchy fun of Animal House and Old School so much as the horrors of the Stanford prison experiment. The film stars Ben Schnetzer as a college freshman eager to join the Phi Sig fraternity where his popular brother (Jonas) is already a member. But the film isn’t interested in glorifying fraternity life. Instead, it draws back the curtain on the horrors of pledge week hazing and the darker side of brotherhood.
After seeing the film at Sundance, our own A.A. Dowd noted that Goat has “gripping” moments and “a shrewd understanding of macho pathology” even if it never quite achieves “anything deeper than a full-on immersion in the boot camp of college fraternity culture.” That immersion also includes a crazed, shirtless Franco, who seems to be playing some sort of revered frat alum (unless we’re supposed to believe he’s still young enough to be a college student).
Goat hits select theaters and VOD on September 23. Hopefully some wise theater manager will think to run it as a double feature with another story about the complexities of brotherhood: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.