Saturday, November 7, 2009

Men Who Stare At Goats - Movie Review

Men Who Stare at Goats is an entertaining movie about the follies of war and the military which is really about the follies of, well, everyone. More akin to Dr. Strangelove than anything, it tells a straight enough story about the whacky world of psychic research supposedly conducted by the military. The disclaimer at the start of the movie warns us that more of this is true than you'd think and the movie is based on a non-fiction book so who knows how much of it is true? Doesn't matter, really. George Clooney does an effective job as a gifted "New Earth" soldier and look for the inside jokes with Ewan McGregor, who plays incredulous reporter, about Jedi knights. A fan of The Big Lebowski? Jeff Bridges plays off his character from that movie and Kevin Spacey rounds out the amiable cast.

Much of this takes place during the early days of the Iraqi war and with Clooney involved you can be sure I was hyper-sensitive about any kind of left-wing spin I might encounter. (No, I don't like Clooney's politics but I always enjoy him on the screen.) Surprisingly, that kind of thing is toned down and I didn't come away with sense of disparagement against the war or the military. If anyone looks foolish, they do so while earnestly pursuing outlandish ideas - after all, the military as portrayed was looking for more effective ways to fight the enemy while protecting its own - and anyone with any familiarity with how government operations work, whether they're civilian or military, will get some knowing laughs.

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