Quickcard Review Men Who Stare At Goats
Directed by: Grant Heslov Cast: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: R Release Date: November 6, 2009
PLOT: Based on the true story by Jon Ronson, it's a story about a reporter (McGregor) in Iraq who may have just stumbled on the greatest unknown soldier story. Lyn Cassady (Clooney) claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion, a unit that taps into the paranormal in their missions.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's an adult comedy (without the sex and drugs ... well, OK there's drugs). The plot sounds like it could be a special effects/superhero movie, it's not. This is about a journalist who may be hanging out with a crazy man in Iraq.
Psychic spies. Jedi warriors. These are the military men who sound like they've been created on the pages of comic books, instead of being a few good men. But the First Earth Battalion is real, or at least the events in this film are real, actually as they say in the movie, "More of this is true than you will believe."
McGregor goes looking for a story because his wife left him. Now he's either stumbled on one of the greatest military stories ever, or an insane man ... how about a little of both.
This is a comedy first, and Clooney delivers big time with his performance of Lyn, the best of the best with a heaping amount of crazy swagger. The concept of love and peace helping in war is filled with potential. The term Jedi warrior gets tossed around a lot. So with that, Bridges plays Obi-Wan, Spacey is a little bit of Darth Vader, and McGregor, well it's just kind of awkward. After all, McGregor (while not the worst part) is connected with helping ruin the Star Wars franchise. Was he really the only choice to play Bob?
The timing is occasionally off with Goats, like when a man takes his life with a gun, and then the next scene tries to make us laugh with Bridges' hooker joke that you can see in the film's trailer. There's nothing wrong with the blurred line the film creates between truth and fiction, it's just that the ending falls a little flat because of it. But more than anything, you're watching Clooney once again turn in a great comedic performance.
So what could have made it better? Tell the story following the time line. Start with Bill, add Lyn, then a little Larry and finally get to Bob. You don't even have to beef up anybody's role. You can still have McGregor in the lead role, but drop his narration. While he has proved he can pull off an American accent, he over pronounced in the narration, and it's just the tiniest bit distracting.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10