Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Men Who Stare at Goats. B-

'The Men Who Stare at Goats' (easily the winner for the most eccentric title of 2009) could have been a lot better than it is. It's still a solid, mostly entertaining movie, but A. O. Scott nailed it when he said that this was a movie that was more fun to make than to watch. The cast consists of several prominent, serious actors (George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Ewan McGregor) who pretty much spend the whole movie goofing off. But, as wild as their antics appear, their behavior is apparently accurate. At least, as an opening title informs us, more so than you might expect. This is the true story of a group of soldiers who formed a special group that specialized in using psychic powers to defeat the enemy. This story is mainly delivered in flashbacks sequences. In the present, Ewan McGregor plays Bob, a reporter who goes to investigate the situation in Iraq. There he meets Lyn Cassidy (Clooney) a former member of this psychic power unit, called The Jedi Warriors' (the movie contains plenty of Star Wars references, making us wonder McGregor is here solely because of his role as Obi Wan in Episodes 1, 2 and 3). He then follows Cassidy on a very concealed mission that results in one disaster after another. There is some funny stuff here, especially a torture device where the prisoner must endure flashing lights accompanied by the Barney theme song. But the movie was also pretty over-the-top and at times so weird that I thought, 'What? Am I supposed to be laughing?' And the film isn't hilarious. Laughing at it was more of a forced task than an automatic one. But it definitely scores points for its originality and because this is just a goofy movie that's not trying to be too serious. But most of all, because this psychic unit, these men who stare at goats, actually existed.

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