Monday, December 14, 2009

Men Who Stare at Goats

When I walked out of Grant Heslov's Men Who Stare at Goats I wasn't completely sure of what I had just seen. The trailer and even opening scenes present the story as true (based on Jon Ronson's book of the same title), but how could it be possible? I was pretty sure I was being fooled. But further investigation has proven that it is in fact completely true.

Perhaps it was watching the movie in a theatre full of British movie goers (who take any opportunity to laugh at Americans), the hilarity of Jeff Bridges and George Clooney, or simply the ludicrousness of the film's premise that made it so impossible to believe. But the movie (book and even three-part documentary all based on the same story) about the US Army's research of New Age, "peaceful," and even psychic tactics of warfare is completely true.

The movie trails journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) on a trip to Iraq to prove himself as a serious writer. Delayed in Kuwait, he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a former soldier in the US New Earth Army. Wilton learns about this completely bizarre sect of the US Army that has tried to hone skills such as invisibility, cloud-bursting, and walking through walls for warfare. The film moves in and out of Cassidy's story of the New Earth Army's formation and his own personal journey.

The cast encapsulates the ridiculousness of the film sublimely. Clooney is self aware and goofy (not as suave as usual, but that works), and Bridges epitomizes the hippie mentality, while Stephen Lang reveals the seriousness that some took to the New Age practice.

Though the plot's linear, it jumps around from idiocy to idiocy making it somewhat hard to follow. Viewers will definitely laugh, but may not completely understand why.

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