The Men Who Stare at Goats
Rated R; Directed by Grant Heslov; Starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges
The Men Who Stare at Goats is one of the stranger titles of a movie to show up in Flagstaff. It’s also a strange kind of movie. Based on a true organization in the military, this fictionalized tale goes for humor. With a great cast and some interesting ideas, the movie had great possibilities, but can’t quite live up to its promise.
Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a reporter who heads off to Iraq to prove himself to the wife that jilted him. While stuck in Kuwait, and awaiting his chance to get into Iraq, he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), an ex-member of the “New Earth Army,” a special-ops unit in the Army that is determined to train its members to become “psychic spies.” As Wilton learns more about Cassady’s story, the stranger things get.
Director Grant Heslov, a long-time collaborator with George Clooney, directs his first film. With actors like Clooney, McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, Heslov has sure firepower, but the story can’t live up to the fun of the cast. The film starts in fine fettle, but can’t maintain the absurdity, and ends up settling for a moral message.
McGregor and Clooney make a good pair as they head off across Iraq. McGregor plays well Wilton’s befuddlement. Clooney has fun as the somewhat wacky warrior with “Jedi” mind tricks.
With a good cast and a fascinating subject, The Men Who Stare at Goats can’t live up to its promise, but it does have its moments. There certainly are few movies who offer audiences the Army, herds of goats, and dancing as plot points.