The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009) – Grant Heslov (Friday’s Finest)

The Men Who Stare at goats

Do you find there are just some movies that despite their apparent mediocrity and critical drubbing you find yourself wanting to revisit? Well, The Men Who Stare at Goats is one such movie I enjoy watching because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and allows its stellar cast the room to just ‘go for it’ and be nonsensical. The result for mine is very entertaining as it provides a farcical glimpse of men at war.

I could relate a lot to the story as an ex serving military member since I too was part of a small niche group whose goal was to instill a progressive ‘servant leadership’ style approach into Officer training. So while The Men Who Stare at Goats is an extreme example of ‘progressivism’ it is by no means as unlikely of having occurred to varying degrees as the general audience might think. In fact the film is a fictionalized version of Jon Ronson’s 2004 book of the same title of an investigation into attempts by the U.S. military to employ psychic powers as a weapon

IMDB Storyline: A reporter, trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end war as we know it. The founder of the unit has gone missing and the trail leads to another psychic soldier who has distorted the mission to serve his own ends.

The comedic elements in this movie are right up my alley and they are used to rack up the tension and reveal interesting insights. George Clooney who is normally a smooth charismatic type in many of his roles just goes to town in this to obliterate any conception you may have had about how he approaches roles. I think time will be kind to this film as audiences will be able to see it with more objectivity since the names in the cast would have propelled audiences to expect an entirely different movie.

I agree with one reviewer who said it reminded him of many of the great movies in the 60’s and 70’s namely  “Catch 22,”” M.A.S.H.” “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “Steelyard Blues.” The Men Who Stare At Goats is a genre film, in the tradition of those great comic satires that challenged the status quo so effectively, 40 years back. It’s just a fun movie, not to be taken seriously. There are just so many quotable lines and the story is very unique. The mass ensemble ‘LSD’ trip is one of my favourite comedic scenes in all of cinema.

IMDB Trivia:

  • This film talks extensively about being Jedi and using Jedi powers. Ewan McGregor played Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels.
  • The “Evolutionary Tactics” field manual shown is the actual one created by James Channon in 1978 for the U.S. Army.
  • The screenplay was featured in the 2006 Blacklist, a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
6 comments on “The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009) – Grant Heslov (Friday’s Finest)
  1. Clever Girl says:

    Hmm, never saw it because I didn’t like the title but I may give it a go.

  2. Hesitant to pull the trigger. Your take might help.

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