When I saw “Star Wars” as a kid, I was extremely fascinated with the whole idea of moving things with my mind. When I would watch Darth Vader strangle one of his crew with his mind, I must say I was a little jealous. “The Men Who Stare at Goats” made me realize I am not alone.
“Goats” follows a depressed reporter named Bob Wilton (McGregor) who travels to Iraq in order to prove his life has meaning after his wife left him for his boss. While attempting to find a ride into Iraq, he stumbles upon a man named Lyn Cassidy (Clooney). Wilton quickly remembers this name, because one of the people he interviewed for an old story told him of Cassidy’s military past as the only man ever to kill a goat using his mind. Wilton follows Cassidy into Iraq in order to hear his story, and Cassidy tells him of his unique military mind control training under Bill Django (Jeff Bridges). As they get deeper into Iraq, they are kidnapped, and Wilton learns that the whole thing is a conspiracy with evil intentions.
George Clooney is an outstanding actor, so I love the fact that he plays these odd roles every so often, because he is always enjoyable. If I had to pick one person to be stranded on an island with, I think Jeff Bridges would be in my top five. Regardless of what character he plays, I can’t help but wish I knew The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” Bridge’s charm is spot on in this movie, and he is the best part of this film. This is one of Ewan McGregor’s weaker performances, but it does not damper the film at any point. While his screen time is limited, Kevin Spacey makes a hilarious villain and his last scene is amazing.
The plot is unique and sometimes random, but at the end of the film it all fits together. The whole movie seems like a gigantic “Star Wars” reference, and while it was funny for a portion of the film, it soon grew old. “Goats” is a victim of its pointless scenes, and the story was a bit rushed with its short 90 minute runtime.
The humor is great and there is surely a certain charm to every character. The last quarter of the film was kind of a mess, except the last scene in Iraq, but the rest of the film is definitely appealing. The script is also strong, but the actors definitely made it sound better.
Director and writer Grant Heslov made a smart move by letting the great actors take over the film. The characters are over the top, but they are never too far fetched.
The use of the desert scenery is great but the rest of the movie feels as if a camera was just set up there and they rushed through the scenes as fast as possible. Some of the transition scenes were sloppy and the shot of inside Clooney’s mind was laughable. The score by Rolfe Kent was decent, but the speakers at the Delft Theatre made this movie sound horrid. The use of the band Boston seemed a little out of place, but I will never complain about hearing “More Than a Feeling.”
Some people may think this movie is just too odd, and the conclusion is terrible, but it is supposed to be strange. “Goats” definitely had some dull parts, but when they attempted to be funny they succeeded every time, except the irritating last scene. I would recommend renting this movie, but do not expect an exceptional film.