Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats

The Men Who Stare At Goats
Year: 2009
Director: Grant Heslov
Cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey

In My Own Words
Despite “The Men Who Stare At Goats” being released in Australia this week, I actually got to see this film while I was in the United States last month. I love Australia, but I hate how long it can take films to get here sometimes. I understand the reason why it is so, but it still doesn’t make it any less annoying when you are dying for a film to arrive here. It took all my might not to buy “The Hurt Locker” on DVD when I was over there so I could watch it at the cinemas when it arrived here. I guess I have to sacrifice some things living in a beautiful country! Although I would love to live in the states as well.

Anyway, that’s enough about me and now onto the film. I really enjoyed this film for the big reason that it is completely different from anything I have seen in a long time. I am all for originality in film and I feel like standing up and cheering when I see something different. Maybe we should all watch this film after we watch “The Hurt Locker”, not so we can learn to laugh at war, but just so we can relax after it. I have not read the book which this film is based on by Jon Ronson, but I have been told that it is extremely funny. It does depend on what type of comedy you like as to whether you will enjoy it though. Some people will find it weird and just plain silly, or even a bit hard to follow. If you like intelligent comedies with a touch of quirkiness and silliness, then you will love this movie. In other words, if you like the Coen brothers, then chances are you will like this film.

These are my own words and here is my review.

The majority if people will be able to realise what type of film this is just by looking at the title “The Men Who Stare At Goats”. Despite the silliness of the title and the comedic nature of the film, this film and the book of the same name which it is based on are in fact true stories. The fact that the film is based on a piece of non-fiction makes it even more intriguing, if not totally bizarre. Journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) arrives in Iraq to cover the war, but instead ends up coming across Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney). Cassidy is an ex member of the New Earth Army, a group of soldiers who claim to have psychic abilities. Wilton is drawn into the world of these soldiers as he learns all the ropes and learns what it takes to fight with your mind rather than with weapons. This film is one that many people will find confusing and downright strange, but others will find hilarious. There are some very funny moments and it is likely that if you find the beginning scene funny, you will find the rest of the movie hilarious.

The movie is completely refreshing and original. It can be a bit slow and a bit tedious at times, but is otherwise quite well done. However, it can be quite confusing and the ending does not feel as conclusive and as fitted together as what it should be. The story is indeed intriguing, but it is unclear as to whether director Grant Heslov is making fun of these soldiers or supporting them. Audience members will leave trying to figure out whether what they saw was based on fact, or was it making fun of what these soldiers believed? However, Heslov does do a very good job in directing this film. The arid scenery is amazing and the recreation of war torn Iraq is definitely noteworthy. The screenplay is well put together and script very witty and humorous. The choice of cast is also a winner. It could not be anything but with the four main male cast members each being marvellous actors in their own right. George Clooney is both hilarious and charming in his role of Lyn Cassidy. Ewan McGregor takes on a type of role that we have not seen him in for quite awhile, that of the inferior come superior. It is like he is playing the flip side of his Star Wars role of Obi-Won Kenobi and does so extremely well. So well that it makes you want to see him in more roles such as this. Jeff Bridges is a favourite in the film and Kevin Spacey, as usual, plays the role of the bad guy with perfection. One just has to feel sorry for the goat, but no animals were harmed during the filming of this movie. So, great performance by the goat who plays dead.

A war/comedy hybrid movie does not come along very often, so this movie is a rarity. “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is refreshing and original, but also quite bizarre. It will not be a movie that everyone will find funny or that everyone will like, but it is good clean humour crossed with quirkiness. Fans of Clooney will definitely love this movie, fans of animals, especially goats, may not like it as much.

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