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The Men Who Stare At Goats

You have to be a really weird movie to even come close to living up the hype that a title like “The Men Who Stare at Goats” has.  The story, which claims to be true, is about not only what the title is about but also how America financed a secret group of soldiers who were perfecting their “supernatural powers.”  Sadly, the movie doesn’t live up to the title.  In fact there are some parts that are almost so believable and rooted in reality that it no longer lives in the realm of absurd humor and is actually kind of sad and dark.  George Clooney and Ewan McGregor star in it as some sort of weird buddy team roaming the Iraqi desert on a mission, perhaps to find the plot of the film.  Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey round out the cast acting as if they are each working off of different versions of the same script.  There’s a huge disconnect in this film that resonates with everything about it.  It seems like this was a movie that was started but had no finished script to work on but it was too late to stop.  That’s the only thing I can think of since the cast is full of the kind of talented actors that can go from drama to comedy in one flawless swoop.  I can’t tell if the fault of the movie not making a solid landing on its own feet was first-time director Grant Heslov’s, or the script itself which was co-written by Jon Ronson, for whom the story is based on.  If the movie is any indication as to what it was really like for Ronson to go through this (if it’s real at all), I’m sure it was a confusing, trippy experience that was perhaps too bizarre to recount in written form in any logical sense.  The film drifts from scene to scene with very little glue holding the story together or explanation as to why things are happening.  That’s not to say that it’s not funny though.  Clooney plays deadpan comedy so well that it makes it such a treat when he takes a role that allows him to do it.  The situations that he talks about, mixed with McGregor’s narration, make for some very funny montages.  The use of quick flashbacks as an almost live-action version of “Family Guy” at times generate some of the biggest laughs in the movie.  But those aren’t enough to make the movie good.  At only 93 minutes long, it feels more like over two hours.  In the film the men who stared at goats apparently did it for hours and hours and hours trying to kill them with their minds; I wonder if us staring at this movie for just one hour killed OUR minds.
The Men Who Stare At Goats (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C