Mixing tones of seriousness and laugh-out-loud funny moments, “The Men Who Stare at Goats” sounds like a quirky, fun, sincere and overall good movie– in theory.
Ewan McGregor stars as a journalist from Ann Arbor, Mich. who turns to reporting the war in Iraq after his wife leaves him for his prosthetic-handed boss. While awaiting entry into Iraq, he soon runs into George Clooney’s character, a retired U.S. special forces operative who claims to be a psychic spy– or as he puts it, a “Jedi warrior.”
The two pair up and after a few too many of the cliche scenes of the “we are meant to be partners” for the film’s own good. But they eventually venture off to traverse the deserts of Iraq. Clooney’s character is on a quest unknown to the viewer until the last act; McGregor is tagging along to get the story he always wanted to write.
Almost half of the movie is told through flashbacks revolving around the New Earth Army, a special division of the Army in the early eighties created to train psychic spies and end war through means of peace. Led by Jeff Bridges as an ultra-hippie, the NEA’s tactics revolved mostly around yoga and dancing.
These flashback scenes are some of the funniest parts of the movie, which sort of leads to one of my major complaints. What happened in the flashbacks is far more interesting than what is happening at present times.
Seeing Clooney and Bridges together on screen with all their quirkiness is fun and entertaining. Not to say McGregor is a bore, but the context of the old adventure compared to the present adventure made me wish for a film based on the hippie-centric Army branch and its members.
Overall, Goats is a fun movie with a fun cast, just don’t expect it to be buy-worthy come DVD time. 6/10