Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Doors: 15th Anniversary Edition

Oliver Stone is the Jim Morrison of American filmmakers. Morrison was a Dionysus-obsessed aspiring filmmaker who became a rock star; Stone's an equally hedonistic filmmaker who's done everything possible to blur the distinction between director and rock star. So there's an element of self-portrait in The Doors, Stone's horrifically bloated ode to rock's most overrated icon. To take the parallels even further, Stone gives himself a smirky little cameo as Morrison's film professor.


A spookily committed Val Kilmer plays Morrison as a snake-hipped poet tuned into a strange frequency only he understands. Morrison's blend of Bacchanalian self-indulgence and trippy mysticism sets him apart from the more conventional members of The Doors, whom Stone depicts as stone-cold squares in hipster clothing. The Doors traces Morrison's meteoric rise from the underground L.A. rock scene to superstardom, and subsequent descent into grotesque self-parody as a "large mammal" killing himself slowly with booze and drugs. The cast is rounded out with fun stunt-casting (Crispin Glover as Andy Warhol, Michael Madsen as a Warhol superstar, Paul Williams as a groovy PR man) and the egregious miscasting of Meg Ryan—an actress Stone dismisses as "constipated"—as Kilmer's muse/lover/soulmate. Ryan's role calls for electrifying physical magnetism, but Ryan remains tethered to her girl-next-door wholesomeness: When Kilmer asks Ryan what turns her on, it's a wonder she doesn't reply "good credit and impeccable personal hygiene."

Drawing from such a rich cornucopia of '60s clichés, The Doors seldom strays far from campy self-parody, especially in its much-spoofed use of ghostly Native Americans spirits as cheesy props to make a drunken white man appear more in touch with his inner shaman. Stone transforms Morrison's myth into a worshipful black-light poster masquerading as a portrait. Stone seems intent on matching his subject's lurid sensationalism and adolescent pretensions, but indiscriminate excess kills Stone's lumpy, exhausting film just as it killed Morrison.

Key features: Extended and deleted scenes, plus a smattering of documentaries ranging from insufferably pretentious (Jim Morrison: An American Poet In Paris) to enjoyably dishy (The Road Of Excess).