Wednesday, December 9, 2009
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS / ***
Distributor: Overture Films
Release Date: November 6, 2009
Running Time: 90 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
As a journalist, watching the opening minutes of “The Men Who Stare at Goats” was a tad upsetting. Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a journalist for the Ann Arbor News, which shuttered its doors over the summer. It was yet another sad reminder of the state of the profession I love.
From that point forward the film took on a much lighter tone, and can best be described as amusing. Like many men before him, Wilton has been jilted by a woman, and thinks he can impress her into taking him back. To that end he travels to Iraq to try and get some kind of combat experience. While there he encounters a story that may seem too good to be true, but Wilton assures us that “more of this is true than you would believe.”
Wilton encounters a man named Lyn Cassady (Oscar winner George Clooney), who was a member of the New Earth Army, which was a top secret branch of psychic soldiers, or “Jedi Warriors.” Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges plays Bill Django, the leader of the New Earth Army. Think of a more motivated version of “The Dude,” Bridges’s character from “The Big Lebowski,” and you get a pretty good idea of what Bill Django is like.
Much of the story is told in flashbacks, to a time when everyone apparently sported just a moustache. Cassady is Django’s star pupil, but another student, Larry Hooper (Oscar winner Kevin Spacey), fancies himself as the top psychic in the class and resents the attention Cassady gets.
The film is certainly disjointed and certainly could have been tightened up in spots. Overall first-time director Grant Heslov (Clooney’s co-writer on “Good Night, and Good Luck”) lets the actors do what they’re best at and doesn’t try to force scenes, no matter how ridiculous.
I can see why “The Men Who Stare at Goats” didn’t light the box office on fire, but I have a suspicion that it may gain a cult following sometime in the next decade.
Theater: Marcus Midtown Crossing Cinema, Omaha, NE
Time: 945 pm