Directed with immediacy and realism, this harrowing exploration of fraternity culture is a must-see for parents and college-bound teens who are thinking of joining the Greek system. Of course not all fraternities operate this way, but the fact remains that Goat is based on a real events. And they're extremely uncomfortable to watch. The pledges seem to believe that their lives won't be worth living if they're not in a fraternity, and the fraternity brothers seem to believe that they can do as they please, whether it's command young women to make out with each other, take turns peeing on a pledge, or stay silent in their role in a pledge's death.
Andrew Neel directs a script co-written by David Gordon Green, and it's filled with scenes that will make parents cringe and hope their own kids will (or already do) know better. But at some schools, the story suggests, it's basically go Greek or get left behind. Among the cast, Schnetzer gives a particularly nuanced performance as Brad, who really isn't cut out for the whole fraternity thing but wants to belong. Jonas is believable as Brett, although he has less to do than Schnetzer. One of the movie's only flaws is that the story focuses solely on the fraternity members and pledges, without puttingtheir place in the school community into context. There's only one scene with a dean, and it's unclear when or how these fraternity brothers go to class, since they're nearly always drunk or high (or trying to get that way). The only women in the movie, except for an early crush who disappears right after she and Brad kiss, are sexual conquests or a stripper. But, the movie argues, that's how the fraternity brothers see women, so it's fitting -- if not ideal. While it might be hard to watch with an older teen, Goat offers important talking points for parents and their graduating or college-aged teens.