The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Men Who Will Bore You

The Men Who Stare at Goats is a quirky comedy that uncovers the “truth” about a secret government program designed to mold soldiers into Jedi warriors. Based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Jon Ronson, the film offers a strange story involving peculiar characters that range from eccentric to insane.

Bob Wilton (played by Ewan McGregor) is a journalist who leads a mundane life. After his wife leaves him, he decides to go to Iraq to look for an adventure. There, he meets Lyn Cassidy (played by George Clooney), who was the premiere psychic spy back in his heyday. Following years of retirement, Cassidy has been called back into duty with a new mission.

Although Wilton is skeptical about the idea of superpowers, he jumps at the chance to accompany a real soldier on an authentic mission. However, as the reporter delves deeper into the secrets of this government organization, he encounters a world beyond what he has come to know.

A good chunk of the film is told through flashbacks, which are the funniest scenes of the movie. The main story of Wilton and Cassidy on their mission is entertaining due to Clooney’s exceptional performance, and compliments the clever flashbacks. The
offbeat comedy’s director, Grant Heslov, successfully constructs a tight, sharp film and brings out exceptional performances from a diverse cast, which includes Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.

McGregor is excellent in the starring role.

He essentially plays the sane man, which mostly involves him reacting to the lunacy that is happening around him. Clooney has experience playing wacky characters and he creates another memorable character in this film. He has the ability to play an unusual character with such seriousness. Bridges, continuing his usual role as an easy-going hippy character, does a commendable job of portraying Bill Django, the initiator of the organization. Another stand out performance comes from Spacey as Larry Hooper, Cassidy’s vicious rival in the psychic army.

The clever script compliments the dedicated performance of the cast. The film is crammed with irony and biting satire.

However, the film does not cross over into bold territory, as its bizarre name would suggest. The main narrative, although entertaining, is quite tame in its quirkiness. Part of the middle act feels sluggish and it takes too long for the humor to return. Unfortunately, the lack of substance to the story will leave most audiences detached and unimpressed. The film’s small budget both hurts and helps for different reasons. Although a story like this is best expressed in small budget form, the small production value is extremely evident on a theater screen and may be distracting to some viewers.

This film will prove to be a devisable one due to the oddball characters and the many Star Wars references. However, there are enough jokes and off-beat performances that elevate this film to make it worth watching. This is a movie best seen at home as a rental thanks to an uneven narrative and small budget production value.

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