The Men Who Stare At Goats: Movie Review
Cast: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin
Director: Grant Heslov
Based on a book by Jon Ronson (and an apparently true investigation) comes
the film adaptation of The Men Who Stare At Goats.
Ewan McGregor stars as small town reporter Bob Wilton, who one day looks into
the story of Gus Lacey who claims to have psychic abilities. After dismissing
the story, Bob's life falls apart as his wife leaves him for his boss and he
ends up going to Iraq.
Quite by coincidence one night, he stumbles across Lyn Cassady (a deadpan
turn by George Clooney) who Lacey claimed was a major part of the operation.
With his journalistic nose well and truly piqued, Wilton follows the story
having learned that Cassady was a "Jedi warrior" and part of a psychic unit
started up by Bill Django (Jeff Bridges in Dude a la Lebowski mode).
So the two set out on a road trip which finds them in the Iraqi desert - and
then Lyn reveals he's actually on one last mission.
The Men Who Stare At Goats is a deadpan shaggy dog style story - with
terrific turns from Clooney as the Jedi Warrior and McGregor as the increasingly
interested and slightly gullible Wilton.
(Incidentally, The Men Who Stare At Goats is titled so because soldiers in
Iraq were apparently training to use their psychic powers to make goats' hearts
stop - yes it's that kind of slightly offbeat quirky humour.)
While it veers from incredulity to outright "What did they just say?," The
Men Who Stare At Goats manages to keep the right side of absurd. Sure, there's
plenty of in joke moments to see McGregor told "The Force is strong with this
one" and various Jedi references but there's also a lot of very unexpectedly
farcically funny moments which catch you off guard and amuse.
Once again, Clooney demonstrates his O Brother Where Art Thou? skill of
humour - he never once mugs to the camera or overeggs the jokes; it's a pitch
Jeff Bridges also shines as the man who started the New Earth Army psychics;
Kevin Spacey amuses as the runt of the squadron whose jealousy pushes him to the
limit and Ewan McGregor displays heart as the reporter who's just after
something in his life when it all falls apart.
While The Men Who Stare At Goats' ending comes a little unravelled (and the
final scene is a bit of a disappointment) the journey is a scarily funny one
with some great one liners, hysterically odd situations and moments where you
actually question a) whether these soldiers truly had psychic powers and b)
whether what you've just witnessed was based on some grain of truth.