LFF Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats
Review by Jack Foley
What’s the story: Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) stumbles across the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission in Iraq. Cassady claims to be a former psychic soldier trained in paranormal techniques who was re-activated post-9/11.
Our verdict: Anyone who has seen the riotously funny trailer for Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare At Gots may be disappointed that it contains most of the movie’s best gags.
But fortunately there’s still plenty to enjoy in this seriously trippy adaptation of Jon Ronson’s non-fiction best-seller that contains more truth than you’d think… so there!
The plot is bonkers, exploring New Earth Armies, psychic/Jedi soldiers and new missions in the post 9/11 era.
But thanks to the stalwart efforts of a top-notch cast and some savvy direction from actor-writer-producer Grant Heslov, it’s a consistently intriguing movie that offers a groovy night at the movies.
Clooney, for his part, continues to demonstrate his versatility as an actor and enjoys some nice interplay with McGregor (sporting a thick American accent).
While Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of New Earth expert Bill Django feels like he’s sent Jeff Lebowski off to war – even though there’s a sting in the tale for him.
Kevin Spacey, meanwhile, revels in the opportunity to create another smarmy, seething villain of the piece, while also getting to poke some fun at the absolutely bonkers nature of the story.
British screenwriter Peter Straughan deserves praise for keeping things moving along at a cracking pace, and for managing to engage on an emotional level even when things become really surreal and strange.
And Heslov’s direction is such that good use is made of location, while the various pratfalls of its characters and their motivations are clearly explained.
The Men Who Stare At Goats may be one of the oddest films of the festival, given its mainstream cast, but it’s an eye-opening and hugely enjoyable comedy that finds just about everyone at the top of their game.
Screenings: Thursday, October 15 at Odeon Leicester Square (7pm)
Sunday, October 18, Vue 7 (3.15pm)