The Doors film review

I figure most of us thought The Doors was plenty of movie at 138 minutes. Little did we realize that one of Oliver Stone’s least favorably received movies would call for a two-disc DVD set with 43 minutes of deleted scenes, numerous documentary extras, and a feature length commentary track from Stone.

And yet here it is.

Ten years after its initial release, I found The Doors a lot like I remembered: a long, pretentious, and meandering — yet dutiful — retelling of Jim Morrison’s life (and which ultimately had far more to do with him than the band he fronted). Stone traces all the high points — from Morrison’s struggle to achieve fame in Venice, California during the height of the surf music craze, to his run-ins with Ed Sullivan and Andy Warhol. But it’s mainly Jim’s self destruction via drugs, alcohol, and scandalous behavior (antics that ultimately forced him to flee to Paris to escape an obscenity conviction) that is the focus of the film (much like the Lenny Bruce biopic Lenny), and that relatively shallow effort is hard to sustain over nearly 2 1/2 hours.

Shot with Stone’s characteristic, psychedelic style, the film is a memorable one thanks to Val Kilmer’s inspired portrayal of Morrison, not to mention nude from of hundreds of Hollywood actresses — notably the prudish Meg Ryan and Kathleen Quinlan. There’s also a prodigious volume of music to contend with — as virtually ever Doors song worth hearing is at least sampled on the movie. And ultimately, it’s the music that tells you more about the nihilism of Jim Morrison than Oliver Stone ever could.

Far out, man.

The beginning of The End.

Review by Christopher Null © 2001

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