In Grant Heslov’s screwball comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats, acting is the saving grace. Fans of George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor, take note.
Spoofing the army, war and new age ideas
The spoof’s helter skelter script and direction will leave you puzzled. Add psychic powers and LSD to the mix for even more confusion.
In his directorial debut, Heslov satirizes the U.S. Army, war and new age ideas.
You’ll laugh out loud
There are many laugh aloud moments. Bridges plays Bill Django, a Vietnam veteran turned hippie. After being shot in battle, Django returns home and establishes the New Earth Army, a secret paranormal unit.
In a hilarious sequence, Bridges soaks nude with his hot tub buddies, free dances and receives colon hydrotherapy.
Django trains soldiers to develop their psychic powers in order to overcome the enemy. In flashbacks we see a mop-haired Clooney as Django’s star pupil, and Spacey as envious rival.
Bridges takes risks
“I like movies that are surprising,” Bridges told NCM Firstlook Online. He considers Heslov to be a filmmaker “with fresh ideas.”
Clooney melds drama, humor and inner growth as Lyn Cassady, a warrior monk who’s just been reactivated. Cassady seeks to make amends because he misused his powers once to destroy a goat.
Clooney’s recent comedy offerings include O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Up in the Air.
Spacey as dark wizard
Spacey is marvelous as Larry Hooper, a dark wizard who owns a lucrative psy ops company. His only ideal is profit. Similar roles for Spacey include Lester Burnham in American Beauty and Lex Luthor in Superman Returns.
McGregor as journalist Bob Wilton delivers frequent, distracting voiceovers. Still he gives his comic best, especially during a trek through the Iraqi desert with the zany Cassady.
Parapsychology used by military?
“More of this is true than you would believe” is the film’s opening line. According to published reports, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency study parapsychology.
The Men Who Stare at Goats may disappoint you. Don’t expect it to make much sense. (3 out of 5 stars)
The Men Who Stare at Goats 2009 / R / 1 hr, 33 min
Cast Overview: George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Robert Patrick, Stephen Lang, Stephen Root
Director: Grant Heslov
Genres: Comedy, Screwball Comedy