THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS is supposedly based on a true story. I have no idea how much is fact and how much is fiction, but whatever the ratio, the blend is an entertaining one for the most part. The story concerns a reporter (Ewan McGregor, sporting a passable American accent) who stumbles on a special Army unit in Iraq conducting research into psychic phenomena. Flashbacks recount the history of the unit, which dates back to the mid-Eighties. It was founded by a soldier played by Jeff Bridges, and one of its most successful recruits is played by George Clooney. At first the unit’s job is remote viewing, “psychic spying” as they refer to it, but over the years they’ve branched out into other things, such as conducting experiments to see if they can kill goats by staring at them and stopping their hearts.
The plot just meanders around and never really generates much suspense or forward momentum, but the sheer goofiness of what’s going on helps to compensate for that. Clearly, the people involved were having fun, which is also a plus. Clooney and Bridges are very good, as always, and McGregor’s okay. Kevin Spacey doesn’t have much to do as a member of the unit who winds up causing trouble.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS isn’t a great film, just an oddball little movie with quite a few funny moments. It’s worth watching. (And as people who have raised the animals in question, at one point in the movie Livia said the exact same thing I was thinking: “Somebody’s gonna have to round up all those goats.”)
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