The Men Who Stare at Goats
Dir: Grant Heslov
Rather than be an offensive waste of time, The Men Who Stare at Goats is such a slight confection of a film that the efforts of an A-list cast are undercut by its meandering existence and pointless final act. Getting big names such as George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and, to a lesser exist, Ewan McGregor in one place should be a cause to celebrate, but The Men Who State at Goats can be described as little more than unnecessary.
Though the idea of getting Clooney back into the deserts of Iraq after the masterful Three Kings seemed like a grand proposition, the whitewashed, sterile Goats shares nothing of David O. Russell’s subversive film that still packs a wallop 10 years later. And rather than focus on Clooney’s officer-turned-private contractor Lyn Cassady, the story and voiceover belongs to McGregor’s craven, self-serving journalist Bob Wilton. Oh, Ewan McGregor, it is so hard to take you seriously anymore after watching what a fretting, pompous little ass you can be in real life in your documentary “Long Way Down” where you ride your pretty little motorcycle across Africa. Luckily, the timorous Wilton isn’t too much different than your real life persona but it is still hard to find any reason to care about this character as he roams the deserts of Iraq (as any good non-pool journalist would do) looking for the “story of the lifetime.”
So what does Wilton learn in Iraq? Well, Cassady was once part of a special unit in the army headed by Jeff Bridges’ peacenik Bill Django who trained men to be “warrior-monks” and use superpowers to stop the enemy, superpowers such as walking through walls. While there are some hilarious moments early on in the film thanks to flashbacks of Clooney in training to become such a warrior, as the film drags on to its self-satisfied conclusion the early laughs change into yawns.
Soon we learn of Cassady’s rivalry with corps member Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) and you know it’s just a matter of time before a final showdown between these two will occur. While it is humorous to hear McGregor talk about Jedis (especially after appearing in the Star Wars prequels) most of the gags in the second half rely on Clooney demonstrating his outlandish training on the incredulous journalist.
Though the film has some funny flashbacks, first time director Grant Heslov doesn’t have enough here to sustain a full feature. While some of the film is based on re