Friday, November 20, 2009

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Bob Wilton is a small time journalist whose wife has just left him. Distraught he goes to Iraq at the start of the Gulf War hoping to get permission to cover the war; however, what he finds is much better – Lyn Cassady, who claims to be a former member of the Army’s psychic spy unit and on a mission to find his former commanding officer Bill Django. Together Lyn & Bob journey across the Iraq desert and encounter civilians, terrorists and independent contractors as Bob slowly draws from Lyn what the unit he belonged to was like.

What drew me to The Men Who Stare at Goats was the quirky concept and the cast. The cast delivers, the concept stops just short of doing so.

This film is helmed by remarkable actors: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges & Kevin Spacey. These are leading men that will be looked back at one day as the standout, true movie stars of our generation. They are as talented as they are charismatic and having them all on screen together is an amazing thing. None of these actors can do any wrong on their own, so put them all together and you have acting gold.

The downside to The Men Who Stare at Goats was that it’s a genuinely quirky film, which I am normally fine with but I couldn’t help but feel that director Grant Heslov was trying to emulate the style of something like Burn After Reading and he missed. This genuinely felt like a Coen brother’s film that was lacking the spirit and presence of the Coen brothers. As I watched The Men Who Stare at Goats and I wondered what the film would have been like if they were helming it, something I am sure was aided not just by the quirky concept but the fact that the film is starring one of their leading men – George Clooney.

What genuinely kept me laughing the entire film was all of the references to the psychic spies as Jedi warriors. This is funny on a geek level alone, but it’s made absolutely hysterical by the fact that Ewan McGregor played Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels – I am 100% sure this was brought up many times on set.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is an entertaining movie. It’s only issue is that for those of us out there that have a bit of a broader understanding of the genre we know what the film could be instead of what it is. It’s definitely worth watching, it’s just not necessarily a movie you will want to watch over and over again. If you’re really looking for a quirky spy film I would recommend Burn After Reading, you’ll even get George Clooney in that one and Brad Pitt in perhaps his most memorable role ever.

Director: Grant Heslov
Writer: Peter Straughan
Lyn Cassady: George Clooney
Bob Wilton: Ewan McGregor
Bill Django: Jeff Bridges
Larry Hooper: Kevin Spacey
Brigader General Hopgood: Stephen Lang
Todd Nixon: Robert Patrick
Gus Lacey: Stephen Root

Bob Wilton: So what do you use to remote view?
Lyn Cassady: I drink. And I find classic rock helps.
Bob Wilton: Any music in particular?
Lyn Cassady: Boston. Boston usually works.

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