The Doors (1991)

the doors poster 1991 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Val Kilmer


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Doors

Studio: Bill Graham Films

Genre(s): Drama/Musical

Release Date(s):  February 23, 1991 (Premiere)/March 1, 1991 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

the doors peyote desert val kilmer kevin dillon kyle maclachlan frank whaley

Does anyone else see a Native American guy staring at us?

Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) does like to be anchored.  He likes to open his mind, explore the world, and bring his message to others.  When he meets Ray Manzarek (Kyle MacLachlan), John Densmore (Kevin Dillon), and Robby Krieger (Frank Whaley), Jim realizes he and his friends can make music and buck the establishment.  Using mind altering drugs and alcohol, Jim Morrison is on a journey of discovery that is also a path of destruction.  Be it relationships with his girlfriend Pamela (Meg Ryan) or reporter Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan), Jim is going to do things his way…and The Doors are open!

Directed by Oliver Stone (who co-wrote it with J. Randal Johnson), The Doors is a musical drama biopic of the band The Doors and their lead singer Jim Morrison (1943-1971).  Following Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July in 1989, the film was released to mixed to positive reviews and quickly gained a cult following.

I’ve never been the biggest Doors fan.  I like some of their music.  I likewise have never been a big Val Kilmer fan.  The Doors in that sense should be a groaner, but for the most part, The Doors is a solid music biopic…a genre that has been done into the ground in recent years.

the doors ed sullivan show jim morrison light my fire

I just can’t imagine what Ed Sullivan viewers thought of the Doors and their stoner music

The movie isn’t particularly kind to the band.  The members of The Doors were not happy about the portrayal in the film.  Morrison comes off as an aloof, pompous performer who thinks so highly of himself, wants the attention, but at the same time is insecure.  Despite his actions and his celebrity, the film paints him as a guy loyal to the band even if the band is tired of his exploits and self-sabotaging behavior.  Morrison might be intelligent, but he seems more like a undergrad who took Intro to Philosophy before dropping out.

While I’m not a Val Kilmer fan, Val Kilmer is the reason to watch The Doors.  His embodiment of Jim Morrison feels natural and comparing Kilmer to video of Morrison, the look is uncanny.  He even gets the uncanny tone of Morrison’s voice.  How Morrison is portrayed, I don’t see him falling for Meg Ryan’s Pamela Courson who seems a bit whiny and a hanger-on-er.  I can see the Kathleen Quinlan connection due to the portrayal of Morrison’s mind expanding beliefs.  Kilmer is backed by a great cast in addition to the band cast including Billy Idol, Crispin Glover, Michael Madsen, Mimi Rogers, Debi Mazar, Paul Williams, Jennifer Tillly, and even a cameo by Oliver Stone as Morrison’s professor.

the doors jim morrison val kilmer

Val Kilmer kills it

Val Kilmer’s performances within the film really sell the movie more than the editing or style of movie.  The concert scenes are pretty well done and capture the weirdness and the energy of the Doors that captivated their followers…it is the in-between moments of the movie that drag.

Today, there are biopics out all the time, and it is easy to forget that The Doors was kind of different at the time.  The movie is long, and the concert scenes are rather drawn out but there is something to the movie.  It was a strange time in America and the Doors feel like an early reflection of what was to come as counter-culture grew.  As much attention The Doors gave Oliver Stone, Oliver Stone eclipsed The Doors the same year when he released JFK in December.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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