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With Jim Sabatini

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats
George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges

Rated: R for language, some drug content and brief nudity
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 6, 2009 Released by: Overture Films

Another "inspired by actual events" tale opens with the caption "more of this is truer than you would believe" and turns out to be a trippy, wild buddy road comedy excursion set in part around the time of the first Iraqi War.

The Men Who Stare at Goats stars George Clooney (also a producer), Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, in nearly an all-male cast that plays especially well to that, older, demographic.

Edgy Michican reporter Bob (McGregor) wants to get an Iraq story so he goes to Kuwait and encounters the unusual Lyn Cassidy (Clooney) who's heading into a danger zone.

The helming by Clooney's partner and friend Grant Heslov outrageously, yet viable gets one into the mindset of the New Earth Army, some clandestine regiment begun in the 1980s by a hippie (Bridges, perhaps channeling a bit of his character from The Big Lebowski).

It seems that psychic soldiers in this army like Lyn were molded into the likes of a "Jedi", yet trouble ensued because of a jealous colleague (Spacey) took them down a rougher, more ominous path.

The interweaving dichotomy of a script from Peter Straughan gives insight what Lyn has gone through in unchronological fashion, as well as chronicling his (mis)adventures with Bob in the desert. Ultimately, the drollness and instances of terror coalesce with sardonic irony to a high point in a heady way.

Heslov (Good Night and Good Luck) and Straughton definitely work cleverly from the Jon Ronson source novel to bring bizarre, prescient exposition to pacifism where it concerns the military. In its twisted, psychedelic progression this is something that Hunter S. Thompson would definitely advocate, as a very good McGregor, getting the lowdown on becoming this kind (see George Lucas) of warrior, has many humorous interludes with Clooney's likeaby virile and wacky Lyn.

Spry, most effective support comes from the surreal, Zen-minded Bridges, as well as a hard-boiled Spacey whose character gets better upon first impression. The title comes from goat experiments. And, along with moments of yoga, prancing on hot coals, boot camp, and some dancing there's something oddly outlandish about an unadulterated war comedy that is desperate, deep into its reality which may not be that far from the truth.

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