The Men That Stare at Goats is the story of Bob, a reporter that has lost everything and set out to Iraq to find it. As we all know, when a man loses the woman he loves he must set out to war, right? On this journey, Bob meets Lyn Cassady, a self proclaimed Jedi and the source for Bob’s story about the world of the army’s secret psychic task force. Though this task force has been disbanded for some time, Lyn is still a practicing psychic warrior and professional cloud burster. Not only do we follow Bob and Lyn on their new adventure but, as the story rolls on, we are given insight to the training of these warriors of the paranormal lead by Bill Django, an eccentric hippie that may or may not have used government funding for a little mind expanding drug use.
The stories of the past are what really makes Goats the hysterically lovable movie it is. Though this film is quirky and strange, it’s almost moronically brilliant in the way it mocks the armed fores and the hit men for hire that now roam Iraq. Even though the film does take small jabs at the still on going war, it does so in a way that will leave a smile on even die hard war supporters. The thing that made the film for me was the performance of Jeff Bridges with his hysterical timing and the ability to transform as his character ages to the point of being a strung out old man by the end with only a touch of make up and a few controlled shakes and twitches. Jeff is not alone as Goats is cast by most of my favorite actors.
I couldn’t imagine any other actors in any of the roles – if you replaced one of them, Goats would truly suffer. Clooney and McGregor play off each other so well in their own quirky ways. Clooney’s delivery is almost too good at times as when Lyn starts to lose all hope his emotion is portrayed so well that it brings down the film. I can’t blame Clooney for this because that’s what makes him the brilliant actor that he is. It was just hard to watch his character seep into depression as everyone around him became more quirky. The opposite of Clooney, McGregor, starts off in a low point and is brought back to life through the passion of the other characters as he starts to buy into their philosophy.
The film has a ton of laughs and a great sound track laden with the songs of Boston. The only thing that keeps it from being the film that I wanted it to be, is a lull after all the back stories are covered. The stories of training and the events that lead to the mediocre conclusion are just so over the top funny that it leaves the rest of the film with the feeling of something missing. I am still not sure if my feeling toward the film is due to the expectations and the overwhelming excitement I had from watching the trailer, but I do feel disappointed about one of the best titled films in years.
I give The Men Who Stare at Goats 3 “Soldiers just can’t shoot puppies” out of 5.
By Ryan Davis