Sunday, November 15, 2009

Men Who Stare At Goats

Review by Rob McKinnon

Opening Date: 11/6/09
Running Time: 96 min
Rated: R for language, some drug content, and brief nudity
Directed by: Grant Heslov
Written by: Peter Straughan (screenplay); Jon Ronson (book)

If the title of this film doesn't bring at least a smile to your face you may be one of the few people who may not find this film the delightfully crazy experience it was meant to be and is. The writing is definitely superior to much of what passes for film comedy today. The performances and directing raise it to even greater pleasure with a cast of our best actors (George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Ewan McGregor) giving their all to squeeze-out every delicious drop of satirical wit and outright crazy fun from the script.

Though original and not in any way a replication of that great satirical film Altman's M.A.S.H., it is in the same vein and boasts an equally fabulous collection of lunatic characters. This last fact is a bit scary considering that the story is (broadly) based in fact. Many of the elements of the secret research presented in the film are indeed at least inspired by military and CIA research conducted by our country (and the Soviet Union) during the cold war. Such things as "remote viewing," "matter control," "invisibility," and the like.

If the film has a weakness, it's one shared by many film comedies. It is in the last minutes of the story where it goes somewhat over-the-top and seems to be trying too hard. (Lots of people acting crazy, completely blitzed on LSD.) Maybe this reflects more of my personal taste than it is a flaw. I'm just giving my reaction. Don't let this bit of analysis steer you away from seeing this film. Even if my impression of these very few minutes of the film is fully correct, it doesn't change the fact that this is one of the best comedies I've seen in quite some time. Jolene and I, as well as our guests, and the rest of the audience spent the entire time laughing out loud. If you're feeling at all like I believe most of us are right now, I suggest two things. Stop watching the TV news, and get yourself out to see MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. I promise you'll feel a whole lot better. - Rob McKinnon