Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Men Who Stare at Goats - Fun but Lacking

Over the years, we have learned from watching movies that the war genre can occasionally be a funny one. Take a look at Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove, or even Three Kings, which all sprinkled the dark nature of war with humor. Coming into The Men Who Stare at Goats, I was hoping that the film would join the list as one of the new classic war comedies. While the film did not like up to my expectations and its own potential, I do believe that this one is bound to be a cult classic.

The plot and storyline is very weak. It focuses on a newspaper writer (Ewan Mcgregor), who joins the army after his wife leaves him. In the army, he meets Lyn, a member of his unit that believes in defeating the enemy with the mind. This is where the goofy title is explained. Lyn, shown in flashback, kills a goat by staring at it.

The film flashes back plenty of times, effectively most of the time. In flashback, we meet Jeff Bridges' character, who ran an army containing a young Lyn as a soldier. His army also uses the mechanism of defeating the enemy with the mind.

The story does not explore its characters, nor does it have a strong storyline, filled with plot points. But it was a fun movie to watch nonetheless. The gags are uneven, but when the laughs come, they are surprisingly funny. Most of the humor came from the relationship between Ewan Mcgregor and George Clooney's characters. The dialogue between the two provided a few clever lines.

Missed opportunities are everywhere in the film, especially in Kevin Spacey's character. He plays the antagonist in a role that was not suited for him. I loved his line in the trailer, though ("Congratulations. I am sorry it doesn't work out for you.") Only Spacey could deliver that line so perfectly.

But The Men Who Stare at Goats did get a few things right, and it was enough for me. I enjoyed hanging out with the characters in the movie, and that is one of the most important parts to a film. I guess it is good sometimes to simply turn off your brain sometimes, and enjoy what the movie has to offer.

3 1/2 / 5 stars

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