George Clooney and Grant Heslov have teamed up once again since co-writing Goodnight and Good Luck, which garnered five Academy Award nominations in 2005.
Super cute of them, right? The dynamics have switched this time around with Heslov directing and Clooney back in front of the camera. Although I am not entirely sure The Men Who Stare at Goats will be getting a lot of Oscar buzz, the adorable couple managed to churn out a pretty funny movie.
After losing his wife to his one-armed editor, journalist Bob Wilton, played by Ewan McGregor, decides he needs to prove himself. That means reporting the war in Iraq, on location. A series of events and chance encounters lead him to Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), who claims to be the ex-golden boy of a secret military group who employed telekinesis among other paranormal abilities. Bob decides to follow Lyn around and make Lyn the subject of an article he wanted to write. Lyn might just be the answer to all Bobs problems.
Ewan McGregor channels Jason Bateman for this role. Remember how Philip Seymour Hoffman did a great job pretending to be Jack Black in Along Came Polly? Its exactly the same thing. If I think about this movie with Bateman in place of McGregor, it doesnt change a bit. There arent many actors that can be interchangeable and Id never pictured Bateman and McGregor as such. For whatever reason, consciously or not, thats what McGregor did. And he did a great job.
Kevin Spacey turns up as a hotshot clairvoyant bent on destroying the young Lyn Cassidy. As per many of his roles, Kevin Spacey does an admirable job playing a huge prick. Jeff Bridges plays an aging hippy, channeling himself from The Big Lebowski, and Clooney was Clooney.
After a complex adventure involving superhuman powers, gunplay and LSD (though not necessarily in that order), things end a little too clean — in an ambiguous way — for my liking. It is as though Clooney and Heslov couldnt quite decide what to do so they simply threw the blanket of they disappeared into the sunset over a few characters so wed stop thinking about them. It didnt work.
I like it when a film with an outlandish premise can pull you in and have you care for its characters. The story wraps up a little too easily, but The Men Who Stare At Goats is very clever and remains an enjoyable watch.