The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

Many years ago, I was zapping when I stumbled upon The Men Who Stare at Goats. I switched channel as soon as I realised George Clooney was in it (I couldn't stand him at the time). The weird title though got stuck in my head and, given that there's Kevin Spacey in it, I decided to watch it. Well, while I would have loved more Spacey, I found the film quite funny. Not smart funny though, but stupid funny. And now you'll understand why.

After the failure of his marriage, reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) goes on the job to Iraq to prove his ex-wife he is a real man and while trying to figure out how to get there, he meets by chance Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a retired US Army operator who was part of a special unit, the Jedi Warriors, trained men able to walk through walls, read the enemy's mind, and stop the heart of goats only staring at them. Wilton decides to join Cassady hoping for a greater story and finds himself in tons of difficult situations but he also learns a lot about Cassady's past (it's told through flashbacks and it's easily the funniest and more interesting part of the story), and he finally has the chance to act like a man.

As stupid as it sounds/is, the story is very interesting, it has a nice pace, and the fact that it's told in part with Wilton's voiceover and part with the actual adventure makes it more engaging and involving. Still, the development of the plot is rather poor, it's all very disjointed aka a little too complicated for a comedy because who wants to use their brain while watching a demential comedy? I sure don't. And it's kinda sad because it had the potential to be great. Still, it is so ridiculous and idiotic you barely understand where it's going, and that's what makes it work.

And the humour, of course. It's weird, a lot weird to be honest. It's silly and slapstick one moment, it's dark, quite sophisticated and Coen-like the moment after that. The dumb humour unfortunately prevails, but I still had a good share of laughs.

The cast was a bit of a disappointment. There are so many great actors in this film, I frankly was expecting way more from them. The performances are fine but definitely not memorable, and the chemistry between McGregor and Clooney is completely off. Although there are two exceptions, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. The first one goes on full Dude mode as the hippie instructor of the special unit and he's fun to watch. The latter is brilliant as the film's true villain, Larry Hooper, a talentless, mean and stubborn member of the unit who wanted to take over with his own vision. 


  1. I have seen this movie and just this past summer, and don’t remember it much except that I didn’t mind it even though it felt muddled. I remember it being quirky and I liked it a lot better than my hubby

  2. This one didn't quite work for me. It was definitely quirky, just not very funny when it's trying so desperately to be just that.

  3. Lo considero un gioiellino sottovalutato. Se fosse uscito negli anni 90 sarebbe stato un cult.