Reviewed by: Katie Thomas
|Featuring:||George Clooney (as Lyn Cassady), Ewan McGregor (Bob Wilton), Jeff Bridges (Bill Django), Kevin Spacey (Larry Hooper), Robert Patrick, Stephen Root, Stephen Lang, Nick Offerman, Glenn Morshower, Rebecca Mader, Terry Serpico, Merik Tadros, Robert Curtis Brown, Matt Newton, Tim Griffin, Brad Grunberg, Waleed Zuaiter, Hrach Titizian, Joelle ten Damme, Arron Shiver, Steve Witting, Billy Lockwood, Wiley M. Pickett, Robert Farrior, Alexandra Krizman, Brian Tester, William Sterchi, McCaleb Burnett, John McTasney, Michael-David Aragon, Shafik N. Bahou, Paul J. Porter, A.J. Tannen, Frank Powers, Steven R. Byrd, Robert Anthony Brass, Burly Cain, Drew Seltzer, Reginald Huc, Morse Bicknell, Jacob Browne, Samuel Ray Gates, JJ Raschel, Kevin Christopher Brown, Rafael Christian, Michael Clark, Ronald Hamilton, Brent Lambert, Donn Lamkin, Gregory Leiker, Carlton Liggins, John Macho, J.D. Marmion, William E. Marshall, Brian Reece, Fawad Siddiqui|
|Producer:||BBC Films, Smoke House, Westgate Film Services, Winchester Capital Partners, George Clooney, Barbara A. Hall, Grant Heslov, James A. Holt, Paul Lister, Alison Owen, Luillo Ruiz, David M. Thompson|
“No goats. No glory.”
“The Men Who Stare At Goats” is a fast, funny ride to nowhere with director Grant Heslov (“Leatherheads”) and Jon Ronson, author of its non-fiction inspiration, at the wheel.
The story is very difficult to summarize without giving everything away, because it is a very A + B + C sort of plot, without any twists. We are introduced to starving reporter Bob Wilton (played by Ewan McGregor) just before he has a chance meeting with Lyn Cassidy (played by Academy Award winner George Clooney). Lyn claims to have been involved in an experimental branch of the U.S. army. They were called the “New Earth Army”, and made up of men who claimed to possess psychic abilities out to change the way wars are fought. Seeing this as his next big story, Bob follows Lyn on his mission to locate the program’s founder Bill Django (played by Oscar nominee Jeff Bridges) who has gone missing. Along the way Lyn and Bob run into trouble of sorts, and Lyn tells Bob all of the program’s history (through flashbacks).
The film claims to be based on true events, the authenticity of which I can neither confirm nor deny, but I got the feeling that the makers almost didn’t want the audience to believe it—or perhaps made the entire adventure so far-fetched that one might have to go research it for themselves. Whatever the case, I suppose I’d like to believe Hollywood wasn’t lying to us this time.
The actors seemed to have a lot of fun with this film, and it showed on screen. Each gave a unique and memorable performance. There were many, many funny moments throughout the entire film. The screenwriter, Peter Straughan, did an excellent job creating witty dialogue, and an even better monologue for Bob, who narrates. Most of his narration is filled with colorful similes and metaphors that sound like a good short story. Unfortunately, they aare also riddled with profanity. At least 25 uses of the f-word, and another 20 or so others, especially g-damn and the s-word.
Nudity also presented itself as an issue. Though all moments are brief, they are still prevalent. There are two shots of several people, men and women together, sitting nude in hot tubs. Several women’s breasts are exposed. Two scenes feature men’s buttocks, one referring to his scrotum.
Violence is present, but not unbearable. Since the film is centered around an army branch, guns were present and some battle sequences depicted. The most memorable is a scene in which a naked officer opens fire on a platoon. The use and even encouragement of LSD is a factor, considering part of the film takes place during the Vietnam War. The illegal drug is used in correlation with psychic experiments, laced in food, and even used as a symbol of liberation at the crescendo.
As a Christian, I would not recommend this film for a Christian audience, especially not children. The useless cursing and depiction of drug usage was far too much and ruined what had the potential to be the great dark-comedy of the year. While I laughed most of the time and was able to appreciate the humor and downright absurdity of the situation, the senseless language proved to be too much.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.