The Doors (1991)

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Oliver Stone's homage to 1960s rock group The Doors also doubles as a biography of the group's late singer, the "Electric Poet" Jim Morrison. The movie follows Morrison from his days as a film student in Los Angeles to his death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971. The movie features a tour-de-force performance by Val Kilmer, who not only looks like Jim Morrison's long-lost twin brother, but also sounds so much like him that he did much of his own singing. It has been written that even the surviving Doors had trouble distinguishing Kilmer's vocals from Morrison's originals. --IMDb
Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer
Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan
Kyle MacLachlan
Kyle MacLachlan
Frank Whaley
Frank Whaley
Kevin Dillon
Kevin Dillon
Review by Chad
Added: November 14, 2007
Jim Morrison may have died almost ten years before I was even born, but regardless, I grew up with the man's music anyway. No matter which musical phase I was going through - be it alternative, classical, rap, or death metal - The Doors always ranked up there as one of my favorite bands. Now, I don't claim to be an authority on the history of either Morrison or the band that he sung for, but I do know a thing or two about them and I do consider myself to be a huge fan, so I had to give Oliver Stone's version of his story another viewing after having seen it once and hating it. While I still had some of the same complaints that I initially had - namely, Stone's twisting of the facts - I did enjoy it a whole lot more this time around.

The Doors really isn't an appropriate title for this film, as the band itself merely serves as the backdrop for the real star of the show, with that obviously being Jim Morrison (played here by Val Kilmer). Indeed, the history of the band is glossed over and rushed through, and what is there seems to have been included only to show how Morrison changed over time and developed as an artist. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as the film runs for over two hours as is, but I do think that it warrants a mention regardless.

So, with that out of the way, why does Morrison deserve an entire film about his life? Well, let's see: the man was a raging alcoholic, an American icon, he took any drugs that he could get his hands on, he left behind some of the most memorable music of the sixties, he was a womanizer, he had brushes with the law throughout his entire career, and he died at the young age of twenty-seven - the same age as Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, and numerous other important musicians. I'd say that makes his life story pretty interesting, and watching it play out here certainly lives up to that statement. We follow his life beginning with him meeting what will become the other members of the band and hooking up with his long-time girlfriend Pamela (Meg Ryan), we then take a quick look at the band's rapid rise to superstardom, and from there, we witness the tolls that the rock 'n' roll lifestyle takes on Morrison as he basically destroys everything in his life and pushes everyone who cares for him further and further away. It's a tragic tale, to say the very least.

The first thing I have to touch on is the distortion of some of the key facts in here, as well as Stone's portrayal of Morrison as an abusive, raging alcoholic. While it's true that he did have a problem with learning when to say enough was enough in regards to alcohol and drugs, the way that he's portrayed here almost comes across as a parody; once things get going, you never see the man without a bottle in his hand or a joint in his mouth. Also, in typical Oliver Stone style, some of the facts found within are exaggerated, twisted, or downright falsified, with one of the big ones being Pamela's involvement in Morrison's death. I understand the reasoning behind this (her family didn't want her portrayed in a negative light for the film), but c'mon: in a story about the life and death of Jim Morrison, there are certain things that simply need to be seen, told, and displayed.

Historical inaccuracies aside, I enjoyed the film taken for what it is: a look at Jim Morrison's life, nothing more, nothing less. Val Kilmer's portrayal of Morrison helped this aspect of the film tremendously, as it's downright scary how much Kilmer looks and sounds like the man. I particularly enjoyed how Morrison's voice and Kilmer's voice were switched back and forth during the musical performances, and there were times when I honestly couldn't tell whose voice it was that I was hearing. When one considers the extremely distinct voice that Morrison had, that's saying something. Meg Ryan was decent as his girlfriend, but even though she did have a couple of moments where she really shined, she was really nothing to brag about for the most part; she had a role, she played it in an acceptable fashion, and that's about it.

I'm going with a 7/10 here, but keep in mind that I'm a huge fan of The Doors. If you're not a fan or have no interest in Morrison's life, you'd probably want to knock a couple of points off as this film is really targeted towards the fans instead of the casual moviegoer. There are a multitude of scenes which go on for much longer than they should (such as the numerous musical performances), and even though I enjoyed them from my perspective as a fan, I can easily see how some people would be put off by them. Still, the story found within these two hours should be entertaining even if you're not a big fan, but if you do find yourself in that camp, don't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
Big D #1: Big D - added 08/04/2004, 03:01 AM
I think of it as a good movie. It's more of a documentary to me, but mostly a story of Jim Morrison. There are excellent Doors singles in it. However, the movie sometimes gets weird. In the middle of the movie, Jim Morrison collapses. During his unconsciousness, he sees an indian (native-American). Anyway, like I said, I think of it as a good movie. Sorry, MMMDI; I have to disagree with you about that movie.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 11/14/2007, 10:44 AM
I have always enjoyed this film. Oliver Stone is one of those 'hit or miss' directors to me, but this is one of his better efforts. It paints a pretty intriguing picture of Jim Morrison, and who could have played the role better than Val Kilmer? Very entertaining flick. 7/10.
Ginose #3: Ginose - added 04/02/2008, 06:58 PM
I'll say that I was never a fan of The Doors as a band and really didn't enjoy being forced to sit through this one... I'd like to quote Dennis Leary as I seem to share his view of this film: "Did we really need a 3 hour-long movie about The Doors?" and his summary of Jim Morrison's life was also pretty spot on.
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