The Doors (1991) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

The Doors is a better movie than most people give it credit for. People have plenty of different reasons to dislike it
  • Many of the negatives you read about the film suggest that it is pretentious and obsessive.
  • Many women and family values types don't like it because of lines like "father I want to kill you, mother I want to fuck you".
  • Some don't like it because there is no redemption as in the typical entertainment biopic - things just kept getting worse and worse for Jim.
  • Some don't like it because it's really about death - Morrison was obsessed with death, coveted "the other side" and finally got what he wanted while he was still young enough to enjoy it.
  • Some criticize the fact that the film changes the character of Jim's girlfriend or of the other Doors when it suits convenient storytelling.
  • Others don't like it because they didn't like the sixties, or they don't like The Doors, or something.
But as with most Oliver Stone movies, those comments tell you more about the reviewers than about the movie.

I think if you stand back from this film and try to view it objectively, you'll find:

  • It does a great job of showing what it was like in that time, how the drug-addled whirlwind seemed to turn a shirtless surfer boy with a book of sophomoric poetry into a cultural icon overnight.
  • It does a great job of showing what Morrison and his music were like. Val Kilmer just nailed the role. I think he is Jim Morrison, and somebody else is in that grave in Paris. All the crap about the Indian Shaman, and the spoken word songs, and the cobras in the desert, that wasn't Oliver Stone's fictionalization, but real Morrison, a part you never saw if "Light My Fire" was the limit of your personal Doors experience. Oliver was telling it like it was.
  • You really get the feeling of being there at those small live indoor performances, and later at the mega-events. Oliver Stone knows how to create the drug-and-concert "experience" on film with all of his hallucinatory sensory-overload filmmaking. It was especially impressive on the big screen.


In the deleted scenes, Jim is seen with two groupies in a motel room (with his wife banging at the door). One of the girls is naked, the other is Jennifer Tilly.

Kathleen Quinlan (as a reporter) and Val Kilmer do a naked dance as part of a witches' ritual designed to improve his potency. It is this scene that featured the oft-quoted line "fuck me, rock god".

Meg Ryan rarely does any nudity but, as Morrison's girlfriend in this film, she showed one of her breasts in excellent lighting. There was other miscellaneous nudity from minor characters and extras.

Val Kilmers buns are seen in the Quinlan scene. He is seen wearing a thong in the deleted scenes.

So do I like the film? Actually, no. I think it's a good movie, but I hate it, for the same reasons a lot of you hate it. The Doors weren't that good. Morrison was a pretentious ass when sober, and incomprehensible when stoned, which was most of the time. The times weren't as interesting as people thought back when they were permanently stoned.

Roger Ebert wrote, and quite accurately I think, that watching this movie is like being stuck in a conversation with an obnoxious drunk when you're not drinking.

But mostly I hate the movie because I don't like remembering how fucked up everything got when the whole peace and love and poetry and social justice thing turned into nothing more than a series of symbols to market bad rock albums and drugs and black light posters. And Morrison was a perfect symbol for that degeneration.

I read with amusement the comments at IMDb claiming that Jim was so much more than shown in the movie, so deep, so sensitive, so much more than a childish drug-abusing jerk. Oh, fiddle-faddle.

First of all, although Jim had an exceptionally high IQ, his poetry is awful. Your kid sister's book of poems is just as good as Jimbo's. Of course, being a bad poet is a real liability when your career ambition is to become a poet, but is actually a plus if you want to be a Rock God. Jim was so smart that he might have developed into a real writer - if he had spent 20 sober years reading every major work of world literature and gradually perfecting his craft. But a 20 year old guy who stays stoned 24/7 isn't likely to become James Joyce. Even James Joyce took a long time to become James Joyce.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • documentary on Jim Morrison "The Road to excess"

  • 43 minutes of deleted scenes.

Secondly, Jim was a childish drug-abusing jerk with a death wish. I saw this film at the same time I saw an excellent BBC documentary on Morrison, and my favorite Morrison story was told by Grace Slick, who said that Jimbo went through LA one night on a dare, asked every single person he met for drugs, and took the first thing everyone handed him. Looking at the truth and the movie side-by-side, one was led to conclude that Oliver Stone actually whitewashed him! Jim was quite lucky to live to 27.

Ray Manzarek (Door's keyboard) has said that the film isn't a good history of The Doors. Doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter that the Meg Ryan role bore no resemblance to reality. I've pointed out before that the facts often get in the way of the greater truth. This movie isn't about facts, but experience. You can get the facts out of a history book, but if you want to know what the experience was like, this movie shows you exactly what it felt like to be there in the wretched excess of the time, and the even more wretched excess of Jim Morrison.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2.5/4 Maltin 2.5/4

  • MRQE 42 reviews on file


The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoopy says, "this film is a high C+. Strident, obnoxious, pretentious, obsessive - yes, it is all those things. Could it portray Morrison and his times accurately if it were not? It's a powerful movie, but not a pleasant experience" Tuna says, "It brilliantly portrays what it is like to live in a drug and alcohol induced stupor. Unfortunately, this is not my idea of entertainment. Val Kilmer WAS Jim Morrison, and could not have played the part better. While the film is superbly made, and explores its subject in such a way as to give a feeling for the people and times, it is not a pleasant watch. Based on this, it is a C+."

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