First of all, this is not the wacky comedy the previews implied. Instead, it reminded me a lot of Everything Is Illuminated:
A guy who just went through a personal loss (grandfather's death in ...Illuminated, divorce in ...Goats) travels to another country and takes a road trip with a quirky fellow who the main character doesn't really understand, but through their travels and some interesting conversation, they bond. And things eventually take a turn for the serious but end on a somewhat upbeat note.
They'd make a good double feature, actually.
The Men Who Stare At Goats made me feel calm and peaceful and a little melancholy but mostly happy in a very quiet way.
I'd call it the best war movie I've ever seen, but it has very little to do with war. It was, however, the first movie that made me have any interest at all in the army. If I could go back in time and be a member of the New Earth Army in the early 1980s, I'd enlist right now.
Years ago my friend Lauren and I discovered that, with the exception of the Star Wars prequels, in every movie he appears Ewan McGregor will end up naked, smoking, singing or bleeding (or some combination of those). In this movie, he's bleeding (though not much) and slightly naked (there's a brief, faraway shot of his butt). I don't know if I'd have noticed either of those things if I wasn't specifically looking for them, but there you go.
It seems like Jeff Bridges has been getting a hell of a lot of work playing mellow hippie dudes. I'd say "What's that all about?" but I was in the audience at his recent appearance on Conan. I know what that's all about.
I love Jeff Bridges.
And I can't think of a single movie Kevin Spacey's in where he doesn't scare the fuck out of me. He even scares me in American Beauty. I don't think he intends to be scary but something about that guy puts me on edge. Luckily, he's supposed to do that in this movie.
On the other hand, the last thing he does / says in The Men Who Stare At Goats actually made me laugh more than anything else in the movie. So at least he's got that going for him. Sometimes he is very funny, he just happens to frighten me.
And George Clooney, well, he's a little bit like William Hurt to me; I always forget he exists. He's so average, he just blends in. Nevermind that he's one of the two lead characters, I'll probably forget he's in this movie. Just like I always forget he's in Good Night And Good Luck. (As far as I can remember, they're the only two movies I've seen George Clooney in.)
He's only a little bit like William Hurt, though. Nobody can top William Hurt in terms of Sally-forgetting-he-existsness. I'm pretty sure he's not in this movie, though, so I'm not sure why I'm talking about him.
Finally, I would like to share the "everybody in this movie is fictitious" disclaimer from the end of The Men Who Stare At Goats:
"Although this film is inspired by John Ronson's Book The Men Who Stare At Goats, it is a fiction, and while the characters Lynn [sic] Cassady and Bill Django are based on actual persons, Sergeant Glenn Wheaton and Colonel Jim Channon, all other characters are invented or are composites and are not portrayals of actual persons. The filmmakers ask that no one attempt walking through walls, cloudbursting while driving, or staring for hours at goats with the intent of harming them... invisibility is fine."
That, my friends, is exactly the sort of thing that makes me love this movie.
End of line.