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Timothy P. Scanlon Says, in 1-20-2010 at 07:46:18 from     

As George Clooney and Jeff Bridges, two of my favorites, were in this flick–and a critic compared it with something Stanley Kubrick might have done–I had to go see it.

It starts with an army general, convinced of his supernatural powers, attempts to pass through a wall. The scene itself broke me up.

Then we’re introduced to Lyn Cassady (Clooney). He reminded me of what many a Clooney character reminds me of: eccentric! he rambles on about a special military unit dedicated to, in effect, the supernatural. Shortly after, you see another eccentric, Bill Django (Bridges).

One of the reasons Django broke me up is first, one could see how he “developed.” He got into a Woodstockesque mode, was contemplating reality in a jaccuzzi, etc. In short, if it weren’t for Bridges’ role in another of my favorites, “The Big Lebowski,” he wouldn’t have fit into this film.

I’ll be much less long winded in my review here because I don’t think the film’s “plot” did much for me. It was more like a series of sight gags that broke me up. I found myself laughing frequently, but not at a plot that was brilliantly done, or anything else particularly erudite.

Oh, and another actor whose role in this film I looked forward to was that of Kevin Spacey, who played Larry Hooper. And he didn’t let me down either.

In short, if you’re looking for a moving experience, something you’ll be pondering for hours with your grande latte, this probably isn’t the film for you. But if you want to laugh at gags, some of them familar, some of them not, at 60s-esque cliches (with some you may very well be familiar), then you may enjoy it. I certainly did.

And at the end, you may be a little surprised at the lead character’s (Bob Wilton/Ewan McGregor) attempt to do what the general attempted at the beginning of the story.
Rating: 4 / 5

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Paul J. Werbos Says, in 1-20-2010 at 09:11:30 from     

For me — I found this movie far exceeded my hopes for it, which in turn were

much better than the niggling reviews from local movie critics.

Why the difference? Maybe because most people go to movies in order to find help in escaping from reality. They want war movies to be a clash of perfect heroes against perfect evil, or, alternatively, a moral drama of enlightened pacifists confronting the

perfect evil of war. In addressing the sensitive subject of human paranormal

abilities, they want either a total righteous debunking of “parapsychology, cold fusion and religion” (a curse chant I have heard from cetain folks in the halls of power), or

a kind of morality play of perfect omniscient and omnipotent heroes doing miracles. They approach all of life that way.

This movie actually is relentlessly heroic in its own way — in trying to chase the truth, in presenting an entertaining and important chapter of reality (both war and paranormal), and in trying to see at least some way thorugh the very challenging maze we are still facing.

My wife (who was well trained to fight in Afghanistan about 15-20 years ago, but never went when folks decided it might remind too many locals of the movie “Barbarella”)

did not like it quite so much, even though she too is a realist. “Who could believe this? Especially that part about Barney?” So we went to google … (regular google, on “Iraq Barney”).

I wouldn’t really empathize fully with any of the main characters. I really, really do not like or respect the attitude of certain folks regarding LSD. LSD is a disaster in many ways. But the movie had to mention it, to be true to the real-life drama.

LSD did play a decisive role in wiping out the army’s activity in this area — and

that, too, is very clear in the movie, and needs to be remembered.

On the other hand, we really should not be self-righteously dismissive of “hippie style thinking.” Some of us still remember that Jesus Christ himself engaged in a lot of hippie style thinking — and some of us believe it would be a huge mistake to

be totally dismissive of his style of thinking and feeling and trying to “let the scales fall from your eyes.” He who has an ear, let him hear.

The movie concludes with the thought that “we really need Jedi.” This is worth thinking about. Certainly we have more than our share of Sith Lords in the world today — from Al Qaida to Cheney. The alternative view is that our situation is already hopeless, as nuclear capabilities proliferate and groups who would misuse them also proliferate, and freedom for individual humans erodes in subtle but decisive ways

all over the world. Still, there are huge challenges in trying to fill this vacuum,

and it would not work to just rerun the imperfect (though important) efforts of the past. The biggest challenge would be how to prevent corruption at the top from screwing it all up as it screws up many other things, such as the eroding capabilities in access to space. The next, of course, is how to insert real science so as to upgrade the best of what can be found from prior history, of which California is only one small part.


Rating: 5 / 5

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CuriousCustomer Says, in 1-20-2010 at 10:40:43 from     

I came to see this movie for the previews with George Clooney and was not dissapointed and Jeff Bridges was just as good. It may not have constant laughs like Caddyshack but it is still a funny movie. Howard the Duck was not a well rated movie when it came out either but is now considered buy some to be a classic so maybe Men who stare at goats will be also someday.
Rating: 5 / 5

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Uncle Chino Says, in 1-20-2010 at 12:01:45 from     

I had really high hopes for this movie. I love Clooney, Spacey, McGregor and Jeff Bridges. I had heard about ‘remote viewing’ when watching ‘Suspect Zero’. I thought this would be a good movie and probably pretty funny cause I like a lot of what Clooney has done in the past. I must say it was just ok. It just kind of floundered and it is a shame cause with this much talent and such an interesting subject it could have been gold.
Rating: 2 / 5

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Tim Brough Says, in 1-20-2010 at 12:22:02 from     

An uneven buddy caper that rides mainly on the abilities of its impeccable casting, “The Men Who Stare At Goats” takes a seriously weird moment in military stupidity and pokes gentle fun at it. There was once a New Earth Army (called The First Earth Battalion) that the CIA experimented with as a Psychic Warfare Operation. What should have you irritated about a waste of your tax dollars gets spoofed into a Hollywood movie. So much for the “liberal media,” right?

As such, it’s still a good time waster. Milquetoast Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) wants to prove to his ex-wife that he’s an exciting man, so he talks his way into an Iraqi reporter position. It is there where he bumbles into the Special Forces Operator, Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), whom Bob once referenced in a story about psychic warfare. Soon Bob convinces Lyn to take him along on his mission, and Lyn’s intermittent explanations about the New Earth Army appears in anecdotal bits, often very humorously.

The supporting cast makes up for the slowness of the overall film, with Jeff Bridges leading the pack as Bill Django, the best of the psychic warriors. Stephen Lang steals the show in just a few scenes as somewhat loopy Brigadier General Dean Hopgood. Kevin Spacey is fine as the creepy trouble maker Larry Hooper, but you’ve seen him do this a million times and his character here has nothing new to offer. And finally, Robert Patrick is a hoot as contractor at large Todd Nixon, appearing for no apparent reason but still amusing.

“The Men Who Stare At Goats” is episodic, and that’s its main drag. It never seems to find its footing, and the ending is contrived. The original non-fiction book detailed disturbing and often hilarious interviews with men who would tell journalist Jon Ronson about the real attempts Presidents Reagen and Bush 2 put into creating these regiments. But as the movie sputters into its final act and all Jon/Bob gets out of his reports is either ignored or mocked, its a bit frustrating to watch the movie of his work walk the wire between reality and the farcical so unevenly.
Rating: 3 / 5

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