Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PFF Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

(Grant Heslov, 2009) - Out in theaters November 6.

George Clooney, the perfect athlete in American cinema – a favorite and an underdog at the same time – stars in another very smart film about the government. The Men Who Stare at Goats – based on Jon Ronson’s nonfiction study of the U.S. Army’s experiment with trained psychic ‘Jedi warriors’ – generates most of its laughs from the fact that it's based on truth. Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) has a spiritual experience while fighting in Vietnam and soon founds the New Earth Army with Lyn Cassady (Clooney) as a prodigious psychic. Ewan McGregor plays the journalist who learns the history of this underground unit and spends most of the movie wandering the Kuwait border with Cassady. Plentiful flashbacks are often hilarious and informative. The film, a well-cast crowd pleaser, never assumes that it is a political piece above a comedy. Even if it isn’t grandiose with its satire like Dr. Strangelove or rapid-fire in its comic delivery like In the Loop, it doesn’t have to be. Festival runs should give Goats a word-of-mouth boost if it even needs it.

Apollo's Rating: 8 out of 10 (Reviewed at the Philadelphia Film Festival)

Running time: 93 mins.

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