By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 10, 2011 at 6:52AM
This indie project has been kicking around for a while, and was first announced almost exactly a year ago with a cast made up of David Duchovny, Robin Wright, Josh Brolin, Hopper Penn, Jason Schwartzman and Robert Schwartzman. Well, the film "Goats" is now finally ready to move forward in front of cameras, and only one man remains standing from that initial lineup.
Instead, Vera Farmiga, Keri Russell, Minnie Driver and Will Arnett will now join David Duchovy with the previously announced Ty Burrell ("Modern Family") and Graham Phillips also on board. An adaptation of the Mark Jude Poirier's 2000 novel of the same name, the film set to be directed by Christopher Neil and "follows teen Ellis (Phillips) as he transfers to the East Coast prep school where his father (Burrell) made his mark as a student." Duchovny will play the teen's father figure, Goat Man, and Farmiga as his mother, with Arnett and Driver playing her boyfriend and best friend. Russell will play the new wife of Burrell's character.
But how did a first time director like Neil get such big name talent involved? Turns out Neil is an acting coach who is a part of the Coppola family through marriage, has worked with Sofia Coppola -- a former executive producer on the project -- on all of her films and was apparently recommended to George Lucas as a coach by none other than Francis Ford Coppola. Lucas and Coppola's American Zoetrope studio later optioned "Goats," tapped the book's author Poirier to write a script and presumably brought Neil on to helm (though it seems they are no longer producing). We'll reserve judgment on his directing abilities for now.
Here's a synopsis of Poirier's novel:
Fourteen-year-old Ellis is getting ready to leave the Southwest for a boarding school in the East. This means leaving behind his mother and the only real father he has ever known, Goat Man. Goat Man has done more for Ellis than giving him his first bong hit. He has maintained a home on Ellis's mom's property rent-free since Ellis was a child, taking care of small tasks and raising a herd of goats — all the while teaching Ellis the meaning of stability, caretaking, and commitment.
At boarding school, making the grade while staying (mostly) high, Ellis finds Goat Man's influence thrown into stark relief. And when a skeptical Ellis returns for spring break, he and Goat Man are forced to reevaluate a relationship they thought was the only thing that would never change in their crazy lives.
Hilarious and intimate, Goats challenges the conventional idea of family and home while drawing us deeper into Ellis's journey into manhood. Mark Jude Poirier has an uncanny gift for chronicling the human condition and bringing to life a varied yet dispassionate landscape.
It's still a pretty staggering array of talent lined up for the picture and we're definitely intrigued by the story. It will be up to Neil hands whether he can make the material work, but like we said, we'll wait before we make a call on that front. Filming begins next month and the project will be up for grabs in the market at Berlinale. [Variety]