More of This is True Than You Would Believe.
Today’s movie has been in my Netflix queue for so long that I no longer remember what inspired me to put it there in the first place. I have a vague recollection of watching part of this movie while in the break room at work and I do so hate to only watch 15 or 30 minutes of a movie and leave without knowing what happened. Well, however it came to be in my Netflix queue, it arrived recently so I felt I should give it a watch. That movie is The Men Who Stare at Goats, based on a book by Jon Ronson, written by Peter Straughan, directed by Grant Heslov, and starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Stephen Root, Robert Patrick, Rebecca Mader, Nick Offerman, and Glenn Morshower.
Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) has fallen on some hard times after his wife left him for the newspaper’s editor. Feeling like he needs an escape, and perhaps a chance to prove himself to his ex-wife, he goes to Kuwait to report on the Iraq War. While waiting to be granted permission to enter, he stumbles across a man named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a name that Wilton recognizes from a man he interviewed a little earlier that told him about a group of American soldiers being trained to use their psychic abilities for combat, teaching them things like invisibility, remote viewing, and phasing. It was rumored that Cassady had even been able to stop a goat’s heart with his thoughts. Wilton gets Cassady to agree to let him tag along on his mission and, while doing so, Cassady tells Wilton about his time with the New Earth Army through flashbacks.
I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like reviewing movies that are just “okay”. If a movie is awful, I’ll have lots of things to say making fun of it. If it’s good, I’ll be able to sing its praises. But if it’s okay, all I really want to say is, “meh.” I’ll try to use more words – and real ones – to describe my feelings about this movie. It’s an okay and pretty interesting movie, based mainly on a pretty well-written story. Even though a bulk of the movie felt like just riding around in a car with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, the subject matter kept it interesting, especially if you consider that this stuff was apparently mostly based on true stories. So with the story being so interesting, what was the problem? I would say the problem is that this movie was a comedy but not really all that funny. I would say that the goofiness that they introduce us to during the course of the movie is amusing, but they were never able to climb over the hill and actually strike me as funny. But since the comedy was never really a failure, it wasn’t painful to watch. Just not funny.
The cast of the movie was all pretty spectacular, but they got some pretty big names to participate. Ewan McGregor was the main character of the movie, and he did a good job displaying the range of emotions his character went through during the movie. He starts off depressed and mopey because of his wife leaving him, then he went to being pretty skeptical of the New Earth Army stories, and he was totally on board by the end of the movie. I liked that he kept talking to Clooney about the “Jedi Warriors”, as they called themselves, like it was such a ridiculous notion, even though he’s the only one in the movie that actually has been a Jedi warrior before. I liked Clooney in the movie as well. He seemed to take the ridiculousness very seriously, which is always a good choice. Jeff Bridges was also very good as the hippie leader of the New Earth Army, Bill Django, but it also seems like a character that was written with Jeff Bridges in mind. Kevin Spacey also plays a dick very well, and he did that here.
The Men Who Stare at Goats was a decent enough movie because of its wacky and interesting story and top notch performances. The problem with the movie is that it was a comedy but it just wasn’t funny. I would say, to its credit, that it was amusing for the greater majority of the movie, but it just couldn’t crest that ridge into funniness. It’s worth watching if it’s on, but I wouldn’t say you need to go out of your way for it. The Men Who Stare at Goats gets “Now more than ever we need the Jedi” out of “He was dying of a broken heart. And maybe the cancer as well.”
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