The Men Who Stare at Goats - ****
Directed by:Grant Heslove
Starring:Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey
Review: Everyone wants something to be passionate about, everybody wants something to believe in so much that they can dedicate their lives to it and feel fulfilled. So many people go through lives with an empty feeling and just accept the status quo that is admirable to see someone who is passionate enough to dive completely into something with their whole being, no matter how crazy or insane it may seem. That's what this movie is about, it is about people who are tired of going through life feeling like there is nothing good out there to fight for and finding something they can dedicate themselves too and feel good about doing. Oh yeah, and it's hilarious.
The Men Who Stare at Goats is about a reporter who is looking for more in his life, although he may find he gets more than he's bargained for. After his wife leaves him Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) decides to shake up his life and head to Iraq to do some solid war reporting so he can prove to his wife that his life is not nothing. He wants to prove this so much, in fact, that he calls his wife from a resort outside the Iraqi border to talk about all the "things he has seen," when in reality he he hasn't even gotten into the country yet.
Looking for ways to get into the country Bob comes into contact with Lyn (George Clooney), who is prepared to blow Bob's mind with a crazy story about the military, which just might be Bob's ticket into the country and into some action so he can find something to report about. After some coaxing Lyn finally tells Bob about his past in the military...that he was a super soldier with super powers trained as part of the Jedi Division. Lyn and others were trained to be able to fight and keep the peace using psychological mind tricks. They were taught how to refine their techniques but most of their abilities were innate. The entire division was made up of people that all had one unique skill or another but none of which seemed real conducive to being a soldier. This did not matter and the division was allowed to continue it's research and tactics for years.
It is in the flashbacks that Lyn explains where his training came from and how he is to be the person he is today. Slowly along the way we begin to see pieces of Lyn's past slowly fade and poke holes into Lyn's belief system. While trying to cook some meet through a solar power grill from his Jedi division, Lyn refers to it as a "piece of shit" when it doesn't work. Lyn has been convinced of his and other's psychic abilities for years but as the years have wore on and he has seen more of how the world works outside of his division, his beliefs in his former teachings and all the abilities slowly erodes.
It is for this reason that Lyn takes Bob along with him on his mission. Lyn came across a a doodle of Bob's that matched the symbol of the "Jedi" and all the old feelings of passion and confidence in his beliefs came rushing back. Finally, there was something to believe in again. This is why Bob came with him and why Bob thinks there will be quite a story to tell. Bob saw the passion in Lyn admired it, and was drawn to Lyn and his story because of that passion. Maybe through Lyn's passionate telling of the story some of that would rub off on Bob and he would be able to find something to be passionate about, whether it's Lyn's story or being inspired by Lyn's story.
Ultimately, these people found something we all want - something to believe in. Whether it's religion, politics, nationalism, books, movies, whatever, people have always been constantly searching for something they can believe in that they can be passionate about. The Men who Stare at Goats were a group of men that were happy because they found that something in their lives, even though it ultimately got taken away from them. They continued to believe because it was all they had that made them feel alive and that is all they or anyone really wants when it all comes down to it.
While my review has remained somewhat on the serious side I assure, this movie has a lot of laugh out loud funny moments and is extremely enjoyable. The movie has a little bit of a softer side to it as well. I really enjoyed this movie and if you appreciate dry humor this movie will be for you. Definitely worth your time.