The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Comedy | War
  • Director: Grant Heslov
  • Cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges


A reporter, trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end war as we know it. The founder of the unit has gone missing and the trail leads to another psychic soldier who has distorted the mission to serve his own ends.

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  • So just who are these men who stare at goats? They’re members of an elite, covert military unit – known officially as the New Earth Army and unofficially as Jedi warriors – trained to use New Age mysticism and psychic powers to defeat the enemy (their staring at the goats is supposed to result in the animals’ deaths). Bob Wilton is a newspaper reporter from Ann Arbor, Michigan who becomes personally involved with the unit while serving as a war correspondent in Iraq. He’s drawn in by a retired Special Forces operator by the name of Lyn Cassady who lets Wilton in on some of his most closely guarded secrets.

    Based on the book by Jon Ralston, “The Men Who Stare at Goats” claims to be based on fact.

    As that rare dark satire that takes on militarism and war as targets, Grant Heslov’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats” gets more points for guts and daring than it does for execution. Its points often lack clarity and focus and the hijinks occasionally feel too much like leftovers from “MASH” and “Catch-22” for total comfort. Yet, there are enough offbeat and humorous moments to more than compensate for the frequent concept that backfires or the occasional joke that falls flat. The basic premise of the story seems to be that since war is the province of madmen and fools, who better fit to wage it? And in the topsy-turvy world of Peter Straughan’s screenplay, even the counterculture concept of hippy-dippy pacifism gets co-opted by the military machine.

    The acting throughout is first-rate. George Clooney is so entertaining as the half-brilliant/half-mad Cassady that he makes the movie worth seeing for his performance alone. Add to that a host of fine performances by Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey and you have a flawed but occasionally compelling work

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