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PCR #503 (Vol. 10, No. 46). This edition is for the week of November 9--15, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Men Who Stare At Goats"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Suck On That, Cheeseheads! .... Sabby Was Robbed! .... Yanks Win Series .... The Return Of The Arena League .... Would It Be Sweet? .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
Coming Soon! .... The Big 4-0 .... Who? .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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Overture Films     
Starring: George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor
Directed by: Grant Heslov
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 33 mins

It’s amazing what our government will, or won’t, do to maintain their military superiority. I say this because the story of “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is rumored to be based on a rumor. That rumor held that our military enemies were recruiting and training people with supposed psychic powers. Powers that could be used against us. Of course this caused Uncle Sam to look for and train his own psychic army. They were trained to be a combination of Jesus Christ, Mao Tse Tung and Walt Disney. At least that’s the rumor.

Bob (McGregor) is a reporter for a Michigan newspaper. He’s happy in his work, as is his wife who works with him. One day he interviews a local man who claims to have served years ago in the New Earth Army, a unit made up of men who fought with their minds. The man tells Bob that the best of the best was Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a young recruit who once stared a goat to death. Bob dismisses his story and returns to work, where he is shocked to learn that his wife has decided to leave him for their editor, who possesses a shiny titanium arm to replace the one he lost in Iraq. Fearing that the paper is not big enough for the three of them, Bob quits and heads to Iraq, hoping to be chosen to be an imbedded reporter. He is convinced that a dangerous assignment will win his wife back. While there he happens upon a fellow American currently in country for a trash disposal convention. That man is Lyn Cassady.

A short and sweet diversion, “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is a lightweight story anchored by a heavyweight cast. Director Heslov, who has come a long way since playing a member of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s government team in “True Lies,” has attracted an A-list of actors that keep the story moving. Chief among them is Clooney, who shared a couple of Oscar nominations with Heslov for co-writing and producing “Good Night and Good Luck.” As a trained psychic, or “remote viewer” as he likes to refer to himself, Clooney is tongue in cheek convincing. Whether staring up at the sky while “cloud bursting” or insisting that the way to disarm a person is to stare at them with “sparkly eyes,” Clooney is a hoot. McGregor matches Clooney note for note. Bob constantly wavers between disbelief and affirmation of Lyn’s prowess. An added highlight between the two has Lyn comparing his powers to that of a Jedi master, which I found funny since McGregor is the once and future Obi Wan Kenobi. As Colonel Bill Django, commander of the New Earth Army, Bridges easily slips into the robe of The Dude from “The Big Lebowski,” reminding me again that it’s a major injustice that Bridges has never won an Oscar.

As noted above, the story itself is a little light on plot, but the director and cast keep it moving so you’re not easily distracted. In fact the only time my mind wandered occurred during a flashback scene which featured Clooney with slightly long hair and a pencil brush mustache. In that moment I realized that he was a dead ringer for Adolph Hitler! Spooky. The Fuehrer aside, on a scale of zero to four stars I give “The Men Who Stare At Goats”


This week's movie review of "The Men Who Stare At Goats" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.