The Men Who Stare at Goats (15)

Film

Comedy

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Nov 3 2009

During the Bush era, it was pretty hard to make a military comedy. The armed forces tended to be presented as either noble or amoral but seldom as clowns. ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ is refreshing, then, for its knockabout approach to martial matters; its problems lie with its lackadaisical approach to narrative and structure.

The film is a dramatised version of Jon Ronson’s non-fiction book about a small pocket of the US Army given licence to experiment with non-violent and paranormal approaches to conflict resolution. American journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) arrives in Kuwait in 2003 with a broken heart and something to prove. Stumbling upon Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), whom he recognises as having been involved in the so-called First Earth Battalion, he finds himself on what could well be a wild goose- (or goat-) chase inside post-Saddam Iraq. Meanwhile, he fills us in on the battalion’s history, from its instigation by Nam vet-turned-hippy visionary Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) to its undoing by bitter psy-op Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey).

There’s plenty to enjoy in the film’s outré set-pieces, insouciant tone and playful performances: Clooney keeps us guessing about Cassady’s abilities (and sanity) and Bridges gets to deliver lines like: ‘I’m your commanding officer and I’m ordering you to let out the dance!’ There’s also a running joke about Jedi warriors that bounces nicely off McGregor’s ‘Star Wars’ pedigree. But the film hedges its claims to veracity (‘more of this is true than you would believe’, indeed) and fails to make its characters or narrative dramatically compelling. The result feels less like a transcendental breakthrough than a bit of conjuring misdirection. Fun trick, though.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Nov 6, 2009

Duration:

90 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|34
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pauge

The best review this movie every got was the comment my 14yr son made on the way back to the car park. "I would hate to think that that was the last movie I saw before I died" I wholeheartedly agree son. It wasn't so much that it was a bad film, more that it could have been so much better. McGregor should take a leaf out of Connery's book, and stick with the Scottish accent, whatever the hell nationality he is playing. It's a lovely accent, and a thousand times better than the strangulated American accent he produces. Clooney was ok as was Bridges, but Spacey had one or those roles that makes you want to punch him. All in all, a waste of everyone's time.

Sarah

Dire isn't the word for this film. None of those actors could have read the script or they wouldn't have been seen dead in it..It's a collection of RARE ole line verbal jokes and 30 second visual jokes. There may be 3 --4 of each in the whole film. Bad..very very bad. It's even unfair to say that 14 year old unsophisticated youngsters would enjoy the slapstick element. Most 14 year olds would find it unfunny

mark2you

I've not seen it but I'ved read all the reviews and feel like i've already seen it so it's 5 stars for me..can't wait to be proved wrong

mark2you

I've not seen it but I'ved read all the reviews and feel like i've already seen it so it's 5 stars for me..can't wait to be proved wrong

Funnygirl

Hysterical film! had us all laughing out loud! think some people have taken it far too seriously! its not supposed to be a documentary!

Funnygirl

Hysterical film! had us all laughing out loud! think some people have taken it far too seriously! its not supposed to be a documentary!

Fabs

Can't understand the low rating.. IT'S A BRILLIANT MOVIE, the performances are great, the story is really funny and ewan macgregor as a jedi warrior is a brilliant idea. I've just got back from the cinema and it was APPLAUDED in the end, so go watch it and see for yourself... funny thing is I nearly didnt go to see it because of the low ratings, am never reading a review in my life again 8-)

Fabs

Can't understand the low rating.. IT'S A BRILLIANT MOVIE, the performances are great, the story is really funny and ewan macgregor as a jedi warrior is a brilliant idea. I've just got back from the cinema and it was APPLAUDED in the end, so go watch it and see for yourself... funny thing is I nearly didnt go to see it because of the low ratings, am never reading a review in my life again 8-)

drew

This film is a wandering lost soul looking for some funny lines in a half decent script.

bob bob

Don't kid yourselves folks this film just totally sux; big time let down. I wish Clooney and co had just died out there in the desert, the film sure had by then.

lauren pmt

The guy that edited the trailer should have MADE this movie, maybe it would have been worth watching to the end.

real katie

I applaud the trailer makers for condensing ALL the best parts of the movie into 2 minutes and making a very dull film appear to be funny - I'd rather listen to an Alastair Darling speech!!

violetta

OMG a huge waste of time and talent in a single film has rarely been achieved to this level of boredom.

katie

btw usman khawaja- way to go giving the plot basics away - you're meant to REVIEW not RETELL

katie

btw usman khawaja- way to go giving the plot basics away - you're meant to REVIEW not RETELL

katie

AWESOME film!! so funny!!! I agree with bob on this one - the cultural gap might be a cause for so many english people not understanding or even registering the humour. If you're offended by that -go see it and prove me wrong!

katie

AWESOME film!! so funny!!! I agree with bob on this one - the cultural gap might be a cause for so many english people not understanding or even registering the humour. If you're offended by that -go see it and prove me wrong!

lauren

I loved this film! It was so refreshing to watch something original and not to be spoon fed reactions e.g. 'laugh here', 'this is a sad bit'. Finally a film that lets me work it out by myself and respects that I have a brain and will find what is beyond the brush strokes. If you don't want to exert any effort don't go to this film you won't understand it, otherwise- go see it!

lauren

I loved this film! It was so refreshing to watch something original and not to be spoon fed reactions e.g. 'laugh here', 'this is a sad bit'. Finally a film that lets me work it out by myself and respects that I have a brain and will find what is beyond the brush strokes. If you don't want to exert any effort don't go to this film you won't understand it, otherwise- go see it!

bob

The people who have given this film a low rating haven't understood the humour, intertextuality and intelligence in the film. I've noticed people comment on it's 'low brow' humour- truth be told I suspect the humour went over their heads. Generally speaking this film was quite subtle- it doesn't have the flashy sort of humour found in Monty Python or Wooster and Jeeves. Perhaps it's a cultural gap- I've noticed that the English struggle with anything that's culturally different, often going so far as to say that there is no difference (and yes I am English too).

bob

The people who have given this film a low rating haven't understood the humour, intertextuality and intelligence in the film. I've noticed people comment on it's 'low brow' humour- truth be told I suspect the humour went over their heads. Generally speaking this film was quite subtle- it doesn't have the flashy sort of humour found in Monty Python or Wooster and Jeeves. Perhaps it's a cultural gap- I've noticed that the English struggle with anything that's culturally different, often going so far as to say that there is no difference (and yes I am English too).

philmk

I don't understand why there were so many poor reviews for this film. I laughted alot. Ewan McGregor as a Jedi warrior was a clever idea to start with. Kevin Spacey was as sinister as ever. All the characters were barking mad - as were the wars - Vietnam and Iraq. Brilliant!

philmk

I don't understand why there were so many poor reviews for this film. I laughted alot. Ewan McGregor as a Jedi warrior was a clever idea to start with. Kevin Spacey was as sinister as ever. All the characters were barking mad - as were the wars - Vietnam and Iraq. Brilliant!

suze

Puzzled by the low reviews here.....I thought this was great! The humour was dry and very subtle - I was laughing most of the time! Go see it!

Kate

really enjoyed this film - very funy, relaxed and didn't try too hard. Good perfermances by all the actors. Would definitely recommend it!

Ben

Massively excited about this film as the subject and stella cast promised a great watch. But no, it's awful - one of the worst films I've seen for a long time. What a shame.

usman khawaja

I HAVE TO ADMIT I ADORE TIMEOUT FOR IT'S FREEDOM OF EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS -AND I SUPPOSE THE CREDIT GOES TO DAVE FOR THAT -HE IS A VERY NICE BLOKE AND DEFINITELY MOODY BUT EFFICIENT TOO - yet what was this MOVIE about - u.s .army is training monk warriors who are psychics and can go through walls and kill poor goats by staring at them - ewan -the non actor-plays a journalist investigating the special unit that kills goats - clooney plays just himself which is an egomaniac who is an army psychic jedi on special mission in iraq- jeff bridges is big lebowski except here he is only playing SMALL lebowski - spacey seems to be a kindergarten kid as the head of the team - they take amphetamines -kill and shoot iraqis and goats - and this is funny, meant to be a satire or dark humour but it is really a monotonous movie with no intelligence or entertainment value pretending to be an art flick -i was really surprised TO SEE IT IS NOT BY COEN BROTHERS -THEY WOULD LOVE TO MAKE THIS AND EVERYONE WILL GO GAGA OVER IT AND GIVE IT AN OSCAR TOO -ENOUGH SAID

lianne

A really dry film with funny scenes few and far between the deeply unfunny script is only held up because of the star actors they have playing the characters with George Clooney, Ewan Magregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey but even these deeply talented actors cannot save this movie with each joke becoming even more strained the low brow American humour just leaves you irritated as you leave the cinema with an ending that leaves you as frustrated as confused, if you are going to see a movie don’t pick this one your money can be spent in better ways.

Paul

Despite the hype and positive press I would summarise this film as pathetic, and limp American humour or humor. I am sure if your joke bar is low, this will limbo below it. Not often I want a film to end soon, but this was one of them, and the ending was feeble. One for the discount bin at the supermarket.