A Review of The Men Who Stare at Goats

First off, as I am sure you guessed, the Daily film clip was an April Fool’s Day prank.  I may very well be introduce such an item in the future.  However, I will only do so if I can can more people read this thing.  In the meantime, I will simply go back to my regular reviews-starting with The Men Who Stare At Goats.

This film is about a psychic brigade of the U.S. army.  It is supposedly based on a true story (or at the very least a story that is ‘more true than you think’).  They are known as the Jedi (which I guess is meant to be a joke at McGregor’s expense) and were trained by a military shaman played by Jeff Bridges.  Clooney is one such member who is on a special mission in Iraq.  One journalist (Ewan McGregor)  follows him as he discusses his training and his service.  Along the way, he is convinced he is dying after a rival soldier (Kevin Spacey) gives him the “death touch.” McGregor believes this to be a story that will make his career.

What the film is trying to be is a sort of Wes Anderson quirky comedy.  It fails.  It knows the dictionary definition of quirkiness (I suppose) but does not know the practical application.  Mostly because it insists the Jedis are something that are worthy of praise.  Anderson’s characters, aside from being memorable (notice how I didn’t mention the character’s names above?  That is because I completely forgot them) are neurotic messes who can barely function in society.

Besides, I do not believe for a second such a program really exists.  Oh, it was probably suggested.  If the military could turn flower power into a weapon, it would.  But the expense would be quite great-surely someone would notice.  We have seen what happens when government spending increases-if we were wasting money on psychics, I have a feeling the uproar would be enormous on both sides.  To try and defend it, rather than ridicule it or even make light of it, is quite demeaning.

Yes, the performances work.  Clooney is in full Coen Brothers mode, giving facial expressions of a homeless man caught on a bus, convinced the aliens are about to get him.  But it’s all for nothing when this is the result.  This is something that I could not get over.  Frankly, I know people who will like this movie.  It is still competently done.  But it means nothing.

Ultimately I guess this is another Iraq War critique.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just join hands and meditate instead of fighting? Yes, but I guarantee the other side will bring guns.  That is why this is merely a capsule review.   The film is not as deep as it thinks it is-and what it does discuss it discusses incorrectly.

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