Review of 'The Men Who Stare at Goats'

the_men_who_stare_at_goats.jpg With such a great title and premise you think this would be hilarious wouldn't you? Shame.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) interviews a local man Gus Lacey (Stephen Root) who claims to be part of “psychic spy initiative” of the US Government. After publishing an article on Gus a year later, having lost his wife Bob decides to travel to Kuwait (during the war) to further investigate the psychic spy initiative. He soon meets one of the members of this group, Lynn Cassady (George Clooney) who begins to educate Bob on the history of “New Earth Army” which was founded by Vietnam veteran Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) seeking different ways to wage war having experienced it's horrors first hand. The government, seeking to get ahead of the Russians, pursue Django's rather unusual techniques which, of course, includes drugs, causing goats' hearts to stop by simply staring at them, therapeutic dancing, and other other new age activities. As Lynn and Bob make their way into Iraq things gets a bit tricky…

It all sounds a bit bonkers…and it is…but it is never really laugh out loud funny. Ironic, silly, absolutely but not a laugh fest as you might expect. There are some big names here beyond Clooney, McGregor and Bridges including Kevin Spacey as Larry Hooper and Robert Patrick (the robot from Terminator 2) as Todd Nixon but even they can't really make this film very good. The story is definitely quirky and makes a good amount of sense with the jumping forwards and backwards in time to explain the history done quite well, without too much confusion. It is the simplicity of the explanations that seems really far fetched though, as suggested in a subtitle at the beginning of the film, perhaps more of this is real than you might think. Despite being set largely in a war zone there is thankfully not a lot of violence as we follow Lynn and Bob on their haphazard journey though the sets are quite convincing.

If you like your humour quirky, ultra-dry and sparsely used then this is a film for you, for the rest of us it is all a bit odd, leaving us cold.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-12-31

Directed by: Grant Heslov

Studio: BBC Films

Year: 2009

Length: 94 minutes

Genre: Melodrama