Goat

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Goat Movie Poster Image
Unflinching look at frat culture has sex, drugs, violence.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The only positive message is that the brothers ultimately hold their relationship to each other more sacred than their place in the fraternity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amid all of the cruel behavior and terrible role modeling, it's made clear that brothers Brett and Brad are close and love each other. When Brad isn't up to the hazing, Brett tries to intervene on his behalf. Despite the consequences, Brett is willing to be a whistleblower. 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.

Violence

A pledge dies. Brad is attacked by two young men who beat, kick, and punch him repeatedly; he's left bloody, and the incident leads to PTSD. They then take his car and leave him in a remote location. During rush, the pledges are slapped, forced to slap each other, made to drink to the point of sickness, taped up and gagged, tied together, told they have to perform oral sex on fraternity members (the "penis" is really a banana), told they'll have to have sex with a goat, and made to sleep in their own filth, among other indignities.

Sex

Graphic scenes of college-aged couples having sex (naked breasts and buttocks visible, with thrusting and moaning). A fraternity member demands two young women continue kissing each other for his amusement. A pledge says he's only having sex "for the first time in his life" because of the allure of the fraternity. A stripper performs for the fraternity -- topless and in a tiny thong). Cruel hazing includes sexually themed things (see "violence" section).

Language

Constant use of strong language, including "f--k," "motherf--ker," "p---y," "d--k," 'f-g," "f----t," "s--t," "a--hole," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "goddamn it," and more.

Consumerism

Apple -- iPhone and MacBook; Ford Taurus, BMW.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College (and high school) students drink often, frequently getting drunk. Partygoers also do drugs like cocaine. During Hell Week, the pledges are forced to drink to dangerous levels, sometimes throwing up on themselves and others.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Goat is a gritty, graphic adaptation of Brad Land's 2004 memoir about rushing a fraternity at Clemson University. A grim cautionary tale about hazing and fraternity culture, the movie (which stars Nick Jonas) is full of drinking/drug use, hazing violence (some of it sexually themed), the death of a pledge, and a random assault and car theft. The only women in the movie, except for an early crush, are sexual conquests and a stripper; some of them appear topless. A character struggles with PTSD. Language is also extreme and used constantly: "f--k," "motherf--ker," "s--t," "p---y," "f----t," and more show up in nearly every sentence. Although this isn't an easy movie to watch, it does give parents a natural starting point for important talks with college-bound high school juniors and seniors.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMariah S. December 28, 2016

Worst waste of an hour and a half

This is the first review I have ever written for a movie. I felt so passionately about letting others know how terrible it was. First off I got this movie becau... Continue reading
Adult Written byZachary W. December 23, 2017

Dark

This is a extremely dark and brutal movie about the dangers of fraternity hazing and post dramatic stress disorder It’s got plenty of language and bully type b... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

GOAT is based on Brad Land's same-titled memoir, which told about the horrors he experienced rushing the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Clemson. In the movie, the university and fraternity are made up: Brookman and Phi Sigma Mu. As the movie opens, Brad (Ben Schnetzer) attends a party at his brother Brett's (Nick Jonas) fraternity house. After leaving, he gives a ride to two guys he thinks are college students. But they're actually criminals who violently assault Brad and steal his car, leaving him traumatized and ashamed he didn't fight back harder. Months later, Brad starts college at Brookman. He and his roommate, Will (Daniel Flaherty), decide to pledge Phi Sigma Mu and endure the fraternity's "Hell Week" of hazing. But the cruel commands from pledgemaster Dixon (Jake Picking) trigger Brad's PTSD and push some of the pledges to dangerous, tragic lengths.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the substance abuse in Goat. Is it glamorized? Does it seem realistic to the way fraternities operate? Are there consequences?

  • How does the movie portray the Greek system? Why is belonging to a fraternity so important to the characters? Do you think that's the way most fraternities (and/or sororities) work?

  • How is sex depicted? What are the consequences of casual sexual encounters? How would you describe the role women play in this story? What message does that send?

  • The insults "f-g," "f----t," and "p---y" come up a lot. Why do you think they're used so casually? Why are they particularly prevalent among young men?

Movie details

  • In theaters: September 23, 2016
  • On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2016
  • Cast: Nick Jonas, Ben Schnetzer, Daniel Flaherty
  • Director: Andrew Neel
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing behavior involving hazing, strong sexual content and nudity, pervasive language, violence, alcohol abuse and some drug use

For kids who love dramas

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate