The Men Who Stare at Goats

I’m not sure what I was expecting considering the title. I can say that what I got from Grant Heslov’s new film, “The Men Who Stare at Goats”, I could never have expected even if I tried. Heslov tells you right away that most of what you’re about to see is truer than you would think, which implies that at least some of what you’re about to see is a fat lie. What actually follows is so entirely ludicrous that it’s hard to imagine it as either made up or the truth. The other thing I wasn’t expecting before going in was laughing as hard and as often as I did.

Ewan McGregor is back in familiar territory as an earnest, likeable lead. He plays reporter and underachiever, Bob Wilton. His wife has just left him and he has, in turn, left the United States for Iraq. It is 2003 and he wants to prove to the world and himself that he is worth something by writing the best post-Iraq war feature ever written. He decides the best angle for his story is to be found with Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney). Cassidy, an army man himself, used to roll with the U.S. Army’s New Earth Division, a division based on the principal that peace is the only thing that can actually win a war and that takes from the paranormal studies to develop its weaponry and calls its top soldiers Jedi warriors. Cassidy himself is said to be able to stare at goats long enough to make their hearts stop. How the U.S. army could have funded any of this is beyond me but it was … or at least some of it was.

I’ll be honest; I am not sure whether Heslov is suggesting that this approach is just as nonsensical as the military methods that we’re familiar with now or that war makes no sense no matter what your plan of attack is. All I know is that when McGregor asks Clooney what a Jedi warrior is, the theatre erupts in laughter. Now, that’s using the force.

Review by Joseph Bélanger