Men Who Stare at Goats

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Clooney and McGregor Flash Bare Behinds in The Men Who Stare at Goats

Nov 13, 2009 (Updated Nov 30, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Clooney and McGregor.  Entertaining movie.

Cons:Movie is a bit different.  Few slow parts.

The Bottom Line: The Men Who Stare at Goats is somewhat different and won't appeal to everyone, but it is an entertaining movie.


I've enjoyed several movies that George Clooney and Ewan McGregor have made.  I wasn't exactly sure what The Men Who Stare at Goats would be about, but I decided to give it a chance.

Reporter Bob Wilton interviews Gus Lacey, a man who claims to have psychic powers that were developed by the Army.  Bob doesn't think more about Gus's claims because his marriage is falling apart.  Bob has some trouble dealing with the situation and gets the idea to head over to Iraq to do some stories as some sort of attempt to win his wife back.  Once there, he meets Lyn Cassady by chance, a man that Gus mentioned in regards to the special program run by the Army.
 
Bob decides that Lyn would make a good subject for a story and after some convincing, Lyn seems to agree.  He at least takes Bob with him on his mission and talks about the unit and their training.  Bill Django starts the unit after the Vietnam war.  He uses some odd theories and calls the men in the unit Jedi Warriors.  The men train to learn remote viewing, intuition, cloud bursting, and invisibility.  Lyn, along with Larry Hooper, are two of the best members of the unit.  Lyn and Bob face several dangerous situations while Lyn is trying to complete his mission.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson.  The book is about how the Army experimented with using some New Age concepts and paranormal things like remote viewing.  It also covers aspects of psychological warfare used by the Army.  From what I can tell, some of the ideas from the book were used for the movie while the characters and situations they were in are fiction.  I could be wrong about that though.

Bob is the first character introduced in The Men Who Stare at Goats and time is taken to set up his situation before he meets Lyn.  A little bit of the interview with Gus is shown to lay the foundation for the rest of the movie.  Things do start off a bit slow and some people may find that part a bit boring.  I think the things shown during the beginning of the movie are needed to fully set up everything that will be happening.  The pace does pick as the movie progresses though it may still be a bit slow for some viewers.  

The Men Who Stare at Goats does jump around in time throughout the movie.  Bob is shown in 2002 or 2003 and the war is in full swing when he decides to go to Iraq.  After he meets Lyn, the movie starts jumping back every so often to show things from when the special unit was developed and then put into action.  The way Bill did research for several years and then was able to start the unit is shown along with Lyn joining the unit and becoming one of the most talented members.  A little bit of that story is told and then the movie returns to Bob and Lyn's attempts to get wherever Lyn needs to go to finish his mission.  It is always very clear when the movie changes time periods and the technique works well to tell the story.  Some viewers may not like the nonlinear way things are told.  During the flashbacks, Bob does some narration to explain certain things.  The narration works fine.

There isn't a lot of action to The Men Who Stare at Goats though some does turn up in different scenes.  What action is in the movie helps to keep things interesting.  Bob and Lyn do end up in a few different dangerous situations that involve some fights.  There is some violence, but it really wasn't that graphic.  Some of the characters do swear, though I don't remember hearing anything too extreme.  At one point, the Bob and Lyn both show their bare behinds.  A few of the male characters show their bare chests and that is it for nudity.

I have seen The Men Who Stare at Goats described as a comedy in many of the ads I've seen for the movie.  While there are several funny things in the movie, I don't really think of it as a comedy.  I'm not sure what I consider it since it isn't a serious movie either.  A lot of what is shown in the movie is rather odd and those things do add humor to what is going on.  The fact that the men in the unit are called Jedi is funny to me since McGregor was in the new Star Wars movies as Obi Won, a powerful Jedi Knight.  I'm sure that wasn't supposed to be funny, but I did think it was funny.  Lyn does act a bit goofy at times, something else that is funny in my opinion.  People in the mood for a really funny movie may be disappointed with this one, but I do think there is a decent amount of humor in it.

Bob goes through a bit of a crisis after his marriage ends which causes him to head off to Iraq to write important stories to somehow win his wife back.  He doesn't seem to really believe Lyn at first, but he does see the potential for a story.  He starts off very unsure of what he is going and he starts to adapt better as the movie progresses.  I do think Ewan McGregor does well with the part.  Bob's wife Deborah just turns up briefly in a few scenes, mostly from a distance, so she really doesn't add anything to the movie.  

Lyn is a very interesting though somewhat bizarre character.  He claims to have all sorts of abilities, though usually not much happens when he tries to demonstrate those abilities.  He sometimes seems to be a bit unstable and other times what he says is more logical.  I think George Clooney does really well with the part.  Stephen Root is barely in the movie as Gus.  It is too bad that he wasn't in more of the movie.

Bill is the man who developed the special unit.  After his experiences in Vietnam he embraced more new age things and was a more mellow person.  He did believe in what the unit was doing, but he had a very unconventional way of training the men and dealing with things.  He does act like he is high at times.  Jeff Bridges does really well with the part.  Larry is another member of the unit who claimed to have psychic powers when he joined.  He wanted to be the best member of the unit and he was not happy when it turned out the Lyn was better.  Larry is more willing to use his abilities in darker ways.  Kevin Spacey handled the part really well.  

Main Cast

Jeff Bridges - Bill
George Clooney - Lyn
Ewan McGregor - Bob
Stephen Root - Gus
Kevin Spacey - Larry

Grant Heslov - Director

The Men Who Stare at Goats is an entertaining, though somewhat odd movie.  It won't appeal to a lot of people because of that, but I do think it is worth seeing.  Fans of the cast may enjoy the movie.

George Clooney Movie Reviews
Batman & Robin ~ Burn After Reading ~ Intolerable Cruelty ~ Leatherheads ~ Michael Clayton ~ Ocean's Eleven ~ Ocean's Twelve ~ Ocean's Thirteen ~

Ewan McGregor Movie Reviews
Angels & Demons ~ Deception ~ Moulin Rouge ~ Moulin Rouge Soundtrack ~ Robots ~ Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace ~ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones ~ Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ~ Valiant ~


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