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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats


Based on events "more true than you'd think", The Men Who Stare At Goats is a fitfully funny story of the Jedi. Not those Jedi, although the fact that it stars Ewan McGregor is a tremendous bit of meta-casting that pays off continually for snickers. The Jedi of The Men Who Stare At Goats are the "super soldiers" of the New Earth Army, the US Military's attempt at psychic operations in the 1970's and 1980s. (The US, the movie explains, began research into psi ops because the Russians heard rumors the US was researching psi ops, which they weren't, but the Russians started researching psi ops because of the rumors. So now the US had to research psi ops because the Russians were doing it, because they heard the US was.) George Clooney is the last of the Jedi after bad egg Kevin Spacey ruined the Jedi program, while Jeff Bridges channels and older, more far-out version of The Dude as the Jedi's founder. Clooney is in entertaining gonzo comedy mode; this is a slightly more subdued turn than his performance in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Clooney's return to a Middle East setting brings back fond memories of Three Kings. The running jokes of Clooney explaining his "powers" to McGregor and McGregor's incredulity at everything Clooney says about the Jedi didn't get old. Trouble is, the story doesn't actually end up going anywhere interesting. Also, most of the Jedi were really just a bunch of hippies. I hate hippies. Finally, I spent the whole movie wondering when the hell Matt Damon was showing up. I didn't realize until the movie was over I was confusing The Men Who Stare At Goats with The Informant! The soundtrack is great; it's is just about every song in the 1960's and 1970's listing in Rock Band. The Men Who Stare At Goats offers an amusing explanation for the origin of the US Army's slogan "Be All That You Can Be".