Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats: Grade C

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey. Director Grant Heslov.

McGregor is a Midwestern reporter during the first Iraq war who meets Clooney, a military contractor, in Kuwait and he hopes Clooney will take him inside Iraq for a story. The reporter learns that Clooney is actually an undercover American operative, part of a black operation of supersoldiers with psychic powers. Clooney describes the program, started in the 1970’s when the government investigated the military use of psychic powers (true), using a small team of special recruits headed up by a Lebowskian Jeff Bridges.

There is an awful lot of talking head in this movie, with McGregor narrating his whole backstory then Clooney narrating his. That is just poor writing and poor filmmaking. There is plenty of good sketch comedy however, as we see the recruits, who include Spacey and Clooney, develop their psychic powers, some of which involve concentrating hard enough to stop the heart of a hamster and even a goat. But there is enough silliness shown and discussed to make us realize that all these so-called psychic powers were probably nothing but delusions.

So McGregor and Clooney travel into Iraq, for unknown reasons, and are kidnapped, and try to “psych” their way out of the situation. There are again funny sketch scenes, but none with any real point. There is no character development, unremarkable acting, and even the main story idea, of military use of psychic powers, is not treated seriously. So in the end it is just 90 minutes of silly gags like you might expect to see on SNL. Fun, but not worth seeking out.

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