10 November 2009

Review: "The Men Who Stare at Goats"

Looking at the poster for The Men Who Stare at Goats you can assume that it is going to be a crazy adventure, as only someone with my sense of humour would love a film that gives star billing to a goat! Grant Heslov's directorial debut stars George Clooney and Ewan McGregor with Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey in supporting roles. With such an accomplished cast one would assume that Grand Heslov is a very lucky man, but he is an Oscar-nominated producer of Clooney's film Good Night, and Good Luck. Maybe becoming friends with George Clooney would help land me a job! The Men Who Stare at Goats, based off a book by Jon Ronson, centres around one journalist's investigation into a U.S. military squad that uses psychic powers. The Men Who Stare at Goats is a satirical film that is as times incredibly funny, and yet at the end of the film it is no less clear whether any of the events depicted on screen were actually based on fact.

Ewan McGregor stars as Bob Wilton, a small town reporter for the local newspaper in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the request of his editor he speaks to a man who claims that the U.S. military had funded a secret force of psychic soldiers and that he needs to speak to Lyn Cassady. Bob, in an attempt to prove his manhood to the wife that recently left him, ends up in Kuwait. By pure chance he finds himself sitting across from Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). Bob convinces Lyn to let him write his story, and the two men embark on a trip into Iraq. Lyn reveals through flashbacks that in the 1980s a man named Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), inspired by the New Age movement, founded, with military approval, the New Age Army. Django's vision was to create a force of psychic spies that used remote viewing and intuition to aid in military operations. Lyn and Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) were two of the New Age Army's finest spies, but had vastly different ways of interpreting the army's teachings. Lyn and Bob find themselves in a world of trouble in Iraq and Bob eventually finds that there is some truth to the wild stories that Lyn has shared with him.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is an incredibly funny film at times, but the film does fail to find any emotion beyond the shocking events of the New Age Army. Ewan McGregor, who has done some superior acting in films like Trainspotting and Moulin Rouge!, has created a likable character in Bob Wilton, but at the end of the film I did not feel overly invested in his future. George Clooney has never been more amusing and it is a pleasure to watch him create the character of Lyn Cassady. Jeff Bridges is wickedly funny as Bill Django, almost an army version of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. After watching the film I realized that it is not really about the validity of the facts. The Men Who Stare at Goats is a highly enjoyable film that is fun to watch, even though the characters are unable to connect with the audience.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4, because it's wickedly funny and fun to watch!

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