Wednesday 16 Apr
 
 

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Comedy · The Men Who Stare at Goats
Comedy
 

The Men Who Stare at Goats


None November 12th, 2009

men

Bob Wilton is a small-town Michigan reporter pushed into adventure by his wife's affair with the newspaper editor.

Taking stock in his now-empty life, Wilton (Ewan McGregor, "Amelia") goes to war as an embedded and rather green journalist in search of a story to give him direction and purpose. Overseas and waiting for permission to cover the second Iraq War, he bumps into Lyn Cassady (George Clooney, "Burn After Reading"), an odd contractor with a strange connection to a story Wilton previously wrote.

Skittish and cryptic at first, Cassady eventually opens up about his history with a top-secret military project centering around "psychic spies," an experimental Army outfit born from Vietnam that trained soldiers to use remote viewing, telekinetics and other weaponry of the mind to aid the U.S. military.

Wilton wants to believe Cassady, and convinces the ex-solder to let him tell the incredible story of these super "Jedi" soldiers armed with superpowers, like leaping through walls, disarming enemies with "sparkling eyes" techniques or locating abducted military leaders with concentrated thoughts.

TWO PATHS
With a script adapted by Peter Straughan ("How to Lose Friends & Alienate People") from a 2004 book by Jon Ronson, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" is funny, frenetic and hard to follow. After Wilton's story is established, the narrative splits into two paths: one following the reporter and his unusual subject on their sandy Iraqi adventure, and scenes that fade back to follow the development of the experimental military program. The fades prove the funniest.

The leader of Cassady's team was soldier-turned-hippie guru Bill Django (Jeff Bridges, "Iron Man"), a scruffy ponytail guy who convinced the government to devote resources to training a "New Age Army." Under his tutelage, chosen soldiers were gathered to mediate, dance and channel their chi to become modern warrior monks. The troops occasionally use their powers to help out Uncle Sam, but mostly they help themselves to drugs, comfy confines and a much-less-stringent military life.

Cassady's account is unbelievable, and most of his supposed powers are unconvincing, but the quirky ex-soldier has an affable energy that resonates with Wilton, who is eventually forced to put his faith in the Jedi warrior.

Leaning on "The Big Lebowski" to channel more than a bit of The Dude, Bridges steals most of the best scenes as he leads his chosen ones through bizarre experiments and tangles with military bureaucracy. Playing it straight as a powerful chosen one with an edgy ulterior purpose, Kevin Spacey ("Moon") is fine in his role, but he's largely overused and underwhelming.

Wide-eyed and insecure, McGregor is atypical enough to be likable and believable, and Clooney is funny, both with his physical embellishments and straight delivery of wacky dialogue. For him, "Goats" bleats somewhere between "Burn After Reading" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Without knowing exactly what he was handed script-wise, it's hard to know how well Grant Heslov (TV's "Unscripted") worked as a director. The end result is serviceable and enjoyable, but energy audiences might otherwise devote to laughing is instead expended on back-and-forth transitions and time-line interstitials.

"Goat" gets it, but not quite all of it.

"”Joe Wertz

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close