“This film is a trip”

There came a time in my life when I was ok with simply admitting when I don’t “get” something. I stopped pretending to understand certain music, writers or artists simply to seem cool and hip. Therefore I can easily say that although I liked THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, I am pretty certain I didn’t get it. And if I did get it then that means it is not as good a film as I think it is. Because what I got out of it was not very deep and profound. I almost want there to be something that eluded me. That way I can feel better about walking out of there confused and missing out. I can only hope that this movie is not as silly as it appears to be on the surface.

A down and out reporter (Ewan McGregor) heads to Iraq to try and jump start his life. While there he runs in to Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) who as legend has it was one of the original members of the US Armies controversial unit, The First Earth Battalion. A group of military men led by Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) and believed to train in the art of psychic and paranormal powers. The two trek across the dessert in search of a mission that has yet to be revealed. Along the way the get kidnapped, shot at and nearly blown up. All for a reason that still escapes me. Writer Peter Straughan and director Grant Heslov have created a film that is unique. That is a fact.

I laughed a lot at this film. The humorous moments come around often and Clooney as always uses his quirkiness to his advantage. At times McGregor and Clooney seem more like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby on the road to Iraq but they work well together and balance each other nicely. I wonder if there is an inner joke that goes deeper than the surface humor. The film might be making more fun of itself than we know. But it does it subtly for sure. Sadly, it feels longer than its 93 minutes. Mainly due to the fact that when you take away the comedy there is little or no plot to carry you from moment to moment. During those times the film bogs down heavily and you find yourself hanging around for the next site gag or one liner. All the characters are random and there is absolutely no synergy to their presence.

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS is rated R for language, some drug content and brief nudity. The drug content consists mainly of LSD trips and some experimental concoctions. The language isn’t perverse and if I remember correctly not rampant. It is easy for me to give this flick 3.5 out of 5 jedi mind tricks. The cast is brilliant in spite of the lack of depth to the script. The humor is strong and current enough to make up for the slow parts. That in itself makes this one to see, just be careful not to try and look too deep. There is no shame in saying you don’t get it. None of the cool kids did. So says Matt Mungle.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com) (11/3/09)

(3.5 out of 5)

Review copyright 2009 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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