Are you an oddball? At last you can find a home with The Men Who Stare at Goats, a dark comedy about a reporter who gets caught up in a plot with a military unit using paranormal powers in their missions. Now here’s a movie that really slipped beneath the radar.
The film stars George Clooney as Lyn Cassady, a former member of the New Earth Army section in the U.S. army, and Ewan McGregor as a Bob Wilton, a journalist looking to prove himself and find the story of a lifetime. However, the endeavour shows that he bit off more than he can chew with the various antics coming to him as he delves deeper and deeper into a world only a few get to see.
This film was unfortunately over-shadowed with other major box office giants and hits like Avatar, Up, Inglorious Basterds, and fan series favourites like Harry Potter, Transformers, not to mention the anticipated Star Trek remake that came out in 2009. It’s a shame because this film was unique in its plot and shows an oddly quirky side to government paranoia.
This film is a romp through foreign lands, and even more foreign concepts – but this isn’t your typical “fish out of water” kind of story. It’s got unrelenting charm, mounting humour that builds and builds on itself, and a feeling of getting into something deeper.
You’ll most likely come away from this movie remembering George Clooney’s character the most, not only because this character is one of the most far-out types, but because Clooney draws in intrigue with every line of insight that his character utters. Every line is a new idea, though he delivers it with an attitude that tells you that you probably should have figured this out on your own already. Ewan McGregor is great as the “average guy”, a character this film needed in order to work so that we could fit ourselves in the story somehow. McGregor is a journalist who observes and therefore participates – just like the audience.
This film is also great for altering perspective. You begin the movie feeling like a normal person who stands outside of this weird world of combative psychosis. As the movie goes on, you become further and further immersed in the reality that this plot creates until by the end, everything snaps back to life as you understand it and you feel like an outsider to everything you knew.
For me, the end of the movie is one of the biggest pay-offs, and despite being a dark comedy, it has a good feel at the end. Watch the movie for its historical links and ’60s vibe; experience the surreal that’s based on very real events; check out the implied understanding between cultures; and if this movie doesn’t reform some part of you, it will at least amuse you for the time being. Overall, this becomes a story of redemption.