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THE DOORS. Directed by Oliver Stone; written by J. Randel Johnson and Oliver Stone; produced by Bill Graham, Sasha Harari, and A. Kitman Ho for TriStar. Starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan. Rated R.


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This movie is a lot like the Doors' music—some nifty little melodies here and there; sometimes interesting, sometimes pretentious lyrics; an excess of feeling for its own sake; and too many long, boring stretches.

Part of the reason for this is the script's emphasis on the band's drug use. Someone else's insight-laden trip is rarely as interesting to outsiders as it is to the tripee. And The Doors shows us several, most of which go on 'way too long.

Also, one tires a bit of the movie's singleminded focus on the band's singer Jim Morrison (Kilmer), especially since he's not a particularly likeable character. The other Doors are played by capable, even interesting, actors (Kyle MacLachlan, Kevin Dillon, and Frank Whaley), but they don't have much to do.

Ryan, as Morrison's girlfriend Pam, has more screen time, but we never find out much about her. In one scene she describes herself as an "ornament," an apt description of her part in the movie.

That said, however, Kilmer's performance is the best thing about The Doors. (Unless, of course, you just like to listen to the music—and the soundtrack does include all of their best songs).

Spacy and self-absorbed off-stage, energized to insane levels while performing, Kilmer gives a fascinating portrayal.

But it's ultimately not too illuminating, particularly in the area of Morrison's personal life. Why anyone would continue to hang out with this incredibly selfish and self-destructive person is never adequately explained. His effect on concert audiences needs no explanation, but his hold over people at closer range doesn't make much sense.

In keeping with the reputation of the '60's, I suppose, The Doors contains some of the raunchiest footage I've seen on screen in a long time. Plus a little witchcraft ritual, and some violence (the domestic variety, thrown in for good measure) The Doors covers all the R-rated bases and then some.

April 3, 1991

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