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.
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.