Review: THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS – He Said/She Said
I’d like to introduce you all to our newest hosts of He Said/She Said. John Cooper and Leah Ducey. Enjoy their review of THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.
John: Want to know what movie The Men Who Stare At Goats reminds me of the most, and not just because it came out a few months ago?
Leah: Uhm. Can I have a hint?
John: We saw it together. It featured a similarly sluggish plot, but had about as many laughs, and to be honest I’ve forgotten most of it. Which is sort of what I expect to see happening with Grant Heslov’s new movie. And similarly to this instance, we sat in the front row, with our necks craned back at 90 degree angles, because we showed up 5 minutes late. Because we’re idiots.
Leah: AHHHH. The Informant!
Leah: We were casually late.
John: But we really didn’t miss much. Because it seems that every bit of setup for Goats was stuffed into the trailer, preparing it to hit the ground running. Which it didn’t. It just stood there. Like a goat.
Leah: I gotta tell ya, though, I feel like Goats got better with time where I felt like The Informant! only got less focused as it progressed.
John: I can’t agree with that. Where The Informant! buried its funny little asides and nonsensical stories into the action via Matt Damon’s bizarre narration, Heslov just forces us back and forth between flashbacks and reporter Bob Wilton’s (Ewan McGregor) journeys with the Jedi warrior Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). The problem is that the flashbacks (actually, just Jeff Bridges as First Earth Battalion founder Bill Django) carry all the momentum of the film, while Clooney and McGregor are left to plod around in the sand.
Leah: Despite all that, I still feel like it got gradually better. I mean, at first I was just chuckling along with the audience for the sake of comrade. I’ll admit, it did drag quite a bit while they were trudging along in the sand before the flashbacks really got off the ground. But once they did, the rest of the film was jam-packed with sincere laughter, at least on my part. Especially a certain scene involving young Lyn Cassady being berated by his father while attempting to do the Twist.
John: It’s not that the movie isn’t funny. It’s got plenty of laughs, but they’re the disposable chuckles, like you said, that can be tossed away upon your exit. There’s a lot more wasted potential â€” I’m thinking of a certain Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Hell, even Clooney looked like he needed more to do. There were too many dead moments, too much dead air. And just when things started to get really interesting â€” the turn that Bridges’ character takes in the last third of the film, as Django turns to alcoholism, is really remarkable â€” it’s almost done.
What did you think of Bridges? I thought his performance was actually pretty stellar, like a mix of The Dude from The Big Lebowski and his villainous performance in Iron Man â€” a hippie bastard child.
Leah: Lest you forget, I have still never seen The Big Lebowski. It’s currently sitting in the corner of the room begging to be watched. I agree with you though, I was expecting much more out of Clooney as well as McGregor. Bridges, on the other hand, was absolutely superb. Did you ever watch Rocket Power on Nickelodeon as a kid? He’s a lot like Tito. The stern Military Man exterior is just a front to conceal his inner flower-picking, yoga-doing, teddy-bear-cuddling self. Which, I’m rather glad he lets shine through, revealing more than a handful of laugh-out-loud antics.
John: I’m going to pretend I didn’t read that first sentence. You donâ€™t know Jeff Bridges until youâ€™ve seen Lebowski. And Tron.
You liked The Men Who Stare at Goats, though? You’d recommend it?
Leah: Oh, definitely. It was a feel-good movie with a solid cast and interesting plot. It takes a totally different approach to the psychic and paranormal world: one which is intriguing while still being laughable, and I think the filmmakers are able to ride a fine line between making the â€œJediâ€ silly and sympathetic. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a film with an idea quite like it; I suppose I have Jon Ronson to thank for that. I sort of want to find a goat and try this stuff out.
John: I’m certain that that’s what Ronson intended in writing thisâ€” making people purchase farm animals.
Leah: I already have farm animals! Getting goats would top it all off.
John: I don’t know, though. I guess I’d recommend it, but not for lasting appeal. This really had potential â€” a solid cast with a great concept, it just doesn’t take off at any point. Clooney’s set to take theaters again in December with Up In The Air, and from what I hear that’s quite a superior movie.
Leah: So what would you rate this movie on a scale of 1 to 10?
Me: I’d give it a 6.5 â€” it’s worthy of seeing just for a pretty great turn by Bridges, who surprisingly outdoes both leads. It’s just too bad that most of the players are so limp here, and those who do turn in good performances are just shunned, like Spacey.
Leah: Iâ€™d give it a 7 or a 7.5. It was entertaining and lighthearted, and thatâ€™s really all that some people are after in a night at the movies. Iâ€™d recommend it on that basis, but Iâ€™d agree with you that thereâ€™s potential here, wasted.
John: Meh. I’m just crossing my fingers that Jason Reitman doesn’t let me down next month.
Leah: That makes two of us.