The Men Who Stare at Goats Review

17 Nov

The Men Who Stare At Goats starring - Lyn Cassady - George Clooney; Bill Django - Jeff Bridges; Bob Wilton - Ewan McGregor; Larry Hooper - Kevin Spacey; Todd Nixon - Robert Patrick; Gen. Hopgood - Stephen Lang. Runtime - 93 minutes

It’s really just the guy who stared at a goat once. But that aside, it’s a sometimes funny comedy that doesn’t take itself to seriously, but doesn’t quite live up to its potential given the cast and crew involved. That being said, it’s still a good time with some quality chuckles followed by some laugh out loud moment, but with some ? moments in between.

Bob Winton (Ewan McGregor) is searching for a big story for his small town newspaper. Bob ends up in Iraq and stumbles upon Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney), who reveals himself to be a ‘jedi warrior’ and member of the ‘first earth battalion’, on a secret mission. The number of jedi warrior jokes made to and by McGregor (young Obi-Wan Kenobi in 3 Star Wars films) never gets old. Winton and Cassidy go on a buddy comedy like road trip through Iraq, with flashbacks to Cassidy’s jedi training in the 70’s.

It is mildly political, but not in a pervasively annoying, or preaching kind of way. Although, at one point Cassidy reunited with his nemesis Larry Hooper( Kevin Spacey) at a First Earth Battalion base in Iraq in which prisoners of war are being held for psychic experiments, which Cassidy calls, “the dark side.” The parallel to torture debate is made fairly obvious in the scene, but that’s really the only moment of political commentary on a serious level.

It’s actually more of a commentary about the hilarity of the military’s cold war extremism. The Russian’s research into psychic powers, is what leads to the creation of the ‘First Earth Battalion’, which is basically a hippie exploration into combat, with the expected hilarious results. It’s got that just-absurd-enough-to-be-more-true-than-you-want-it-to-be, thing.

McGregor and Clooney give solid performances, carrying the movie through a wandering plot.  Spacey and Jeff Bridges, as Col. Bill Django, basically the Big Lebowski but with drive, round out a stellar supporting cast. It is well written by Peter Straughan, off of the book of the same title by Jon Ronson, despite some plot flaws.

Most of he movie doesn’t take itself seriously enough to be a political commentary of any kind. It really is just a semi-dark comedy, that scores a solid B to B+ on the humor scale. You’ll leave the theater feeling a little let down, but ultimately not caring because you still laughed enough to make it worth your money.

Side note: This story is not that crazy, back in the 40’s General “Wild” Bill Donovan, then director of the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) wanted to research dropped suicide bats onto Japan. His theory was that by strapping a small explosive to a bat and then letting them fly around the country, before detonating them, would create such damage that it would end the war. Government thinking in action.

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