Friday, November 12, 2010

Men Who Stare at Goats

I wanted to like Men Who Stare at Goats (2009; dir. Grant Heslov). The title, the concept (a military unit assigned to investigate using psychic powers against the enemy), the actors (Kevin Spacey, Stephen Root, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges), the promise of droll and satiric humor, the supposedly factual basis of the story—all of this stood in the movie’s favor. But I had difficulty staying awake. The humor was obscure, the settings were dark and dreary, the plot was torturously winding and forked and uninteresting. The characters were indistinct. The film never came to life. In ways it was a lot like The Big Lebowski (1998)¸ except that the latter film made sense, was hilarious, had wonderfully bizarre and distinctive characters, worked in every possible way, and remains engaging and entertaining after many viewings. Jeff Bridges almost seems to play a version of the Dude in this film. But in the end it is as disappointing and unrewarding as one might expect staring at goats to be.

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