In the 1980s, a paranormal unit of the Army called The First Earth Battalion trains psychic enlistees to become Jedi-like warriors.
Led by an ex-hippie and New Age philosopher, the unit battles evil with the mind first and the body second.
The unit is now active in Iraq.
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Credit the cast for the reason to see this one. No one does tongue-in-cheek, mock-serious comedy better than George Clooney, who does psychic looney Lyn Cassidy.
He takes a reporter who is looking for that one big, career break to Iraq. They’re searching for First Earth founder Bill Django. Ewan McGregor does the reporter. Jeff Bridges — who saves every movie he’s in, including this one — does Django. Kevin Spacey rounds out the all-star cast as the villain of the piece.
Director Grant Heslov — a character actor that you don’t know but have seen in dozens of films and when you see his face you’ll go, “Oh, that guy!” — is behind the camera for the first time. Plot details come in clumps as Heslov bounces screenwriter Peter Straughn’s mock-serious story between past and present.
Based on a real book by Jon Ronson, Heslov and Straughn miss answers to key questions and a deeper development of some of the key characters. Fussier viewers will care. I don’t think most of you will.
The Men Who Stare at Goats is supposed to be true. All of it. Sure, it is stretched a bit and padded with comic embellishments. But determining what is fact or fiction doesn’t deter one from enjoying a movie adventure that ends up with the same fate as the unit: it goes nowhere.
More movies going nowhere should be this much fun.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for mature themes, language, some violence. It opens Friday, Nov. 6 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.