Director: Oliver Stone
Rock & Roll band biopics; if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. I guess the farther back you go the more original they are, by definition, but it’s hard not to judge them as harshly as you judge modern biographies, because they’re equally bad, however pioneering they may have been at the time. The Doors is simply another drug-addled moving memoir, following the same path we’ve seen unfolding in real life with these stars, showing us more details perhaps, but offering nothing past a few cheap ups and downs. For my money, I’ll stick with That Thing You Do, which is at least an amalgam of all the sad songs we’ve heard from too many spectacular fires burning out far too quickly.
Jim Morrison co-founded The Doors in California in 1965; he would die in Paris in 1971. His life was a constant destructive downward spiral toward an ultimate bad end, with moments of beauty along the way that he attempted to capture and put into words for us, so that perhaps we could feel what he was feeling, and maybe see what he thought he could see. With poetic rock hits that made them a nation-wide sensation, The Doors would put on legendary performances and perform at iconic shows, but their artistry was always under threat from the very chaos that fueled Morrison’s genius, as his substance abuse began to control his life, and his bizarre vision blurred more and more, becoming an enemy rather than an aid.
As far as a biopic goes, this is about as sad a story as you’re going to hear, especially if you are a fan of the band, because it ends early and it doesn’t end well. Morrison was a once-in-a-generation poet, seer, orator, mystic, something, and you can feel that in his lyrics, he was heads above normal men. That splendor, set aflame by drugs and alcohol, burned up a life that was special, and so we only got a fleeting glimpse when what we wanted to last forever. Still, the film doesn’t exactly capture it the best that it could have, the movie feels more like a recipe for disaster instead of a unique vision of a unique man. Kilmer is great, but that’s about it; his singing and his acting are superb, but no one supports him or what he was trying to portray. Most of the movie is just dull, a psychedelic slumber party that you want to leave before it gets worse, and that’s not what audiences want. Stone fails to make the magic happen, and that’s on him, because he had the star to play the icon, he just didn’t have the ability to pull off the project as a whole and make a memory that would last longer than us putting on a Doors album and forgetting all about what we just watched.
My rating: ☆ ☆