Precious Bodily Fluids

The Men Who Stare At Goats


As has been well documented, The Men Who Stare At Goats is no Dr. Strangelove, but then it isn’t trying to be. A satire in the vein of Kubrick’s masterpiece, it differs in part by having a more-or-less straight man (Ewan McGregor) at its center who narrates the film through voiceover and serves at first to allow characters like George Clooney and Jeff Bridges seem even more bizarre. Part of the point of the film is how a slow, gullible, but otherwise normal guy can get sucked into new age hysteria when he’s cornered on every side by the insanity of warfare. The film sets its mood early, showing us television footage of (1) an early speech by George W. Bush attempting to inspire his audience in a time of crisis and (2) Bush’s infamous victory speech on board that big boat following a fighter jet escort. The ridiculousness that follows keeps in line with the foolish optimism that defined the early Bush era and that a surprisingly high percentage of the population at some point put their hope in. Coincidence follows coincidence and is proclaimed proof after proof of the idiotic but well meaning delusions that are only actually given any visual credence when Clooney is narrating his own flashbacks. Dubious. Upon the film’s conclusion, the general vibe of the small audience was summed up by one man, who asked, apparently rhetorically, “So who else is going to be asking for their money back?” We, however, laughed throughout this film, enjoying everything from Clooney’s silliest and perfectly timed vocal inflection to the overarching meta-absurdity of this pretty wise but unassuming film. (It’s also great that Clooney’s character and Bridges’ character derive somewhat from their roles in the Coen brothers’ films O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski, respectively.)


This entry was published on November 15, 2009 at 12:02 am. It’s filed under 2000s Cinema, American film and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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