by Isaac Whalen
In only his fourth venture into directing, actor-producer Grant Heslov’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats” combines social commentary, male bonding and comedy to create an overall enjoyable film.
What makes the film work is that none of the characters seem to be in on their jokes. Psychic powers, mind control and “remote viewing” all seem to be taken seriously in the film, while remaining strange to the audience. This type of comedic approach differs from other cunning roles played by George Clooney, yet he seems to make it work.
Heslov uses this type of oblivious humor to form a social commentary on modern society and war in general. The true meaning of a liberated mind is constantly contrasted to the more cynical approach to life of the general population. The film balances this comparison well enough with only a few slips. The audience is required to choose which concept to follow in the film; however, the balance does begin to shift towards that end, taking the choice away from the audience and damaging the films feel.
The manner in which the plot was handled is unfortunate. While there are quite a few examples of good writing, the linking scenes are not as strong, giving the plot a weaker feel. As a result, the film seems more like a series of humorous and dramatic acts rather than a continuously flowing story.
Heslov provides a “true story” film that lands in the middle. Despite its spotty writing as well as all-over mediocre feel, “The Men Who Stare At Goats” is worth a watch.
Mixed into its quick jokes and bizarre situations. the film manages to raise deep questions on faith versus reasoning as well as comradeship between friends. While not the most groundbreaking film, it certainly does deliver in the comedic arena and will provide a fun time to all who watch.