“The Men Who Stare at Goats” opens with the text “More of this story is true than you would like”, and good Lord I hope that isn’t true. Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a journalist in hot pursuit of a story, any story, that will prove his worth as a reporter and as a man. This leads to a quite strange connection with Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) who is apart of covert military operation New Earth Army, and has subsequently been trained to be a psychic “Jedi” capable of astral projection and other mental “powers”.
Why you’ll like this:
Quirky; quality cast
What continually grabbed me was the opening line, because every scene I couldn’t help but wonder if in fact this could possibly be true. Then again I have to acknowledge how absurd our US military operations are to begin with, so it’s definitely possible in my mind that the Army started a paranormal division. The tone stays on this serious edge of disbelief, where you know Lyn is dead-serious, but you’re not sure how much of it Bob is buying into. Naturally, all the humor is derived from the ridiculous notions that psychic-Lyn tries to employ and how you can construe them as actually working.
George Clooney does a fantastic job of being borderline insane, baring quite a stark resemblance to a kooky conspiracy theorist without a sense of humor, and nary a clue. Ewan equally sells the role of innocent curiousity and schoolboy cluelessness. With those powers combined they formed a rather impressive duo of deaf leading the blind.
The use of flashbacks help add a quirky air to the film while filling in the origins of the operation. Jeff Bridges, Oscar firmly in hand, may still be one of the most underused actors working currently and he proves here yet again how versatile he can be, this time with a beatnik persona. The film does lull a bit for my tastes, but the grand finale is a fairly unique battle of Army mustaches duking it out ESP-style….or at least trying to do their best.
Why you won’t like this:
Lots of dry humor; not in a hurry; not enough goats
“The Men Who Star at Goats” perhaps didn’t stare at enough goats to satisfy that goat-staring fetish of mine, but I did like it and found the absurd nature of it to get a few laughs. I can’t say I’ll be buying it or hoping to catch re-runs, but I’m glad I finally caught up with it. HYAAH!
3 out of 5 stars.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges
Director: Grant Heslov
Genre: Comedy, War
Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.
Release Date: November 6, 2009