The Men Who Stare At Goats Short Review (3 of 5)
This review is not going to be that thorough and it will only be a review in the sense that I talk about a movie called ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’ and occasionally mention something from the film. This movie isn’t terrible. It isn’t great. It just ‘is’, and depending on what ‘is’ means to you might determine how much you like the film. This is the way the film meanders. I get the general point that they were trying to make (they kind of spell things out with the bookends), but it seemed that it was more important to the filmmakers to be quirky/zany than to make a good movie. The actual point wasn’t anything profound, either.
The movie begins by telling the audience that the movie is more true than the government would care to admit and then we watch an officer rise from behind his desk and tries to run through a wall. Then we meet a reporter played by Ewan MacGregor, who wants to be a better reporter. His wife has left him for someone that he knows. His life is in semi crisis and takes a turn for the _______ when he meets a man that tells him of a secret government project that he was a part of that tapped into the powers of the mind called the New Earth Army. He also speaks of a very psychically talented man who owns a dance studio now. The reporter chalks this all up as nonsense and travels to the Middle East to hopefully get to do combat reporting and be a REAL reporter. Then he meets the man who owns the dance studio played by George Clooney.
Clooney repeatedly tells MacGregor’s reporter that he is a ‘Jedi Warrior’ and soon becomes convinced that MacGregor is one also (of course! He’s Ben Kenobi in the 3 Crappily Unfunny Star Wars movies). From there on, Clooney tries to convince MacGregor that he has psychic powers and they wander around and interact with people in seemingly random events until they…. 😉
It sounds like a funny setup. I did chuckle throughout, but it wasn’t THAT funny. They didn’t put all the clever lines into the trailer, but there never are any real big laughs. This movie also wasted some great actors in this. Jeff Bridges plays an absurdly flower child officer who sports a pony tail while guiding the team members of the New Earth Army. Kevin Spacey also makes an appearance, has a couple of funny lines and then just stands around in the background and kind of looks at the other actors with more lines than him. They make you think that he’s going to be the villain, but no. There isn’t really a villain. There’s some drug use scenes in the film. there is the ‘staring at goats’ which is in the title. Clooney gives a typically slapstick performance as he’s done in movies like ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’, Leatherheads, and Burn After Reading. MacGregor is a likeable actor, who seems to end up in less than stellar films for some reason. He’s a good actor (see his earlier films with Danny Boyle). I also was glad to see another movie with Stephen Root. He’s a top notch character that rarely gets mentioned when people talk about great actors… but they should.
The biggest sin of this movie is that it’s VERY predictable… I felt like I was the one writing the script and from parts of movies that I’ve already seen. I was even picking what songs they were going to use. The minute Clooney said his caharcter liked Boston (the 70s Rock band) I started humming “More Than A Feeling” and within a few minutes they were playing. I guess I laughed though.
The biggest saving grace of the film was that the characters of the film were likable, excluding Robert Patrick’s character in the movie and a few terrorists… But even some of the terrorists in the film were just being kept down by ‘the man’. In the film makers’ view, the terrorists don’t want to hurt anybody and they’re just VICTIMS, man (Say that like Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski)! Anyway… If I sound like I’m not sure what to write about this one; I’m not. This is one of those movies that as soon as we walked out of the film, we’re talking about anything but this movie. “Hey just killed 2 hours… Let’s go get something to eat…” I chuckled along with them for the most part, but it wouldn’t have been a big deal had I missed this one. It’s the kind of film that now that I’ve seen it, I don’t really care to seek it out again, but if I’m vegetating in front of the TV some night and it comes on some cable channel, I’d probably watch it. 3 of 5 whatevers….