182: The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 94 minutes
Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey
Director: Grant Heslov

This movie was a big question mark as to whether I wanted to see it in theaters. I thought the trailers were fairly funny and definitely intriguing, but part of me thought something was a bit off about this movie. It seemed like a harmless, movie and something that would at least be entertaining. And although the movie was highly enjoyable, it misses the mark from becoming a great movie.

The story is about Bob Wilton (McGregor), a journalist living in Michigan who has pretty much hit a wall in his life. His wife wants a divorce and he's struggling to be a real journalist instead of pushing fluff pieces with his pencil. Until he finally breaks out of the mold and goes to Iraq looking for a story that will break him out of his rut. There he runs into Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a former soldier trained to be a psychic warrior by the Pentagon and uncovers a truly weird tale. The movie says most of the story is true (which sounds plausible - the government, and particular, the Pentagon have always been doing weird shit) and it's such a bizarre tale that you're left wondering what was made up and what wasn't.

I found this movie to be a lot like Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. I really enjoyed that movie, too. It involves crazy people and the secret operatives, just like TMWSAG. Whereas Confessions is told through a series of flashbacks and scenes, TMWSAG is straightforward, following a linear path toward it's very inevitable and quite unfinished ending. I enjoyed all the crazy stuff Jeff Bridges' characters was bringing into the army and how Cassady got caught up in the brotherhood of the New Earth Army. It left me wanting to read the book this movie is based to find out the details and how much of it was true. It's a good story, I found myself wanting to find out where it was going. And I did care enough about the characters that I wanted Wilton to redeem himself at the end.

But the ending isn't quite as satisfying as I'd hoped it to be. It's kind of a let-down, as if the writer couldn't figure out what to do now that the main story was finished so he tacked on a out of place monologue at the end with a rather unsettling scene. It just doesn't fit with the rest of the movie and there could have been a more poignant ending somewhere five minutes before it actually ended. So I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth, but I had thoroughly enjoyed the main course.

It's worth a rental just to see how crazy these people are about their psychic abilities and how they thought they were creating a new era in warfare and world peace, to an extent. I laughed quite a bit and found myself wanting more details. It comes out Tuesday - check it out!

Rating: Rent It!

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