Skip to comments.George Clooney Gets My Goat (New movie a "cinematic Katrina" )
Posted on 11/05/2009 10:36:51 PM PST by tlb
The Men Who Stare at Goats, the latest George Clooney fiasco, is like getting stung by a wasp on the inside of your eyelid. You are blinded to all reason and the agony lasts for days.
Despite Mr. Clooneys easygoing charm and obvious good looks, his film choices point to an appalling lack of both intelligence and taste. He just doesnt seem interested in narrative movies that make sense, and even worse, he has an exasperating tendency to turn his projects over to buddies and basketball cronies, whether or not they have any talent. (In George Clooney movies, talent is optional.) The result is a depressingly high track record of incomprehensible bores like Solaris, Syriana, Michael Clayton, the dumb, overplotted Oceans flicks by the overrated Steven Soderbergh the list is long. In fact, the marvelous and insightful Good Night, and Good Luck is the only major exception in a career notable for frat-house one-liners and photo op mugging over artistic quality.
At the press conference for The Men Who Stare at Goats in Toronto, when asked what drew him to a movie this bad, he deadpanned, Ive known Grant Heslov [the director] since 1992, and he has some compromising photos of me, so I really had no choice.
Its hard to believe this is the same Mr. Heslov who helped write Good Night, and Good Luck, about Edward R. Murrow and the McCarthy witch hunts. He may be Clooneys longtime filmmaking partner, but he is certainly no director, and this wobbly, one-legged directorial debut proves it.
Its supposed to be a takeoff on Dr. Strangelove, with all of the slobbering, winking, brain-dead overacting on display in the abominable Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?; it pastes together disconnected stories from a book by Jon Ronson about the U.S. Armys use of parapsychological research in Iraq. Ewan McGregor, who shows up in what feels like at least half of the movies released today (and seems to get worse in each one), plays a down-and-out reporter from Michigan who travels to Fort Bragg in 1983 to interview a top-secret brigade of psychic and paranormal soldiers trained in New Age warfare. The result is surreal and patently absurd as he tags along to Kuwait as a war correspondent with a gang of illogical military muttonheads trained to make themselves invisible and impersonate Jedi warriors in Star Wars epics, run through walls and kill goats by staring them to death.
Dedicated to ending the war on terror without violence, these warrior monks hike across the Iraq desert in search of the founder of the First Earth Battaliona pony-tailed acid head freak named Django (Jeff Bridges, re-creating his performance as the Dude in The Big Lebowski). As part of their combat training, he encourages his foot soldiers to stop shaving, grow long hair, wear Jedi robes and dancea natural for Mr. Clooney, who is in civilian life a dance instructor. They spout nonsense about steroids and solar cooking on sand dunes and perform sadistic experiments on animals, and their nemesis is new recruit Kevin Spacey, whose special talent is spoon bending. Theyre all crazy and none of their theories work, and neither does the movie.
The structure is nothing more than a series of anything-goes contrivances. It is never clear what the goal is (the reporter narrates: I was on a missioneven I didnt know what the mission was), although when recruited to find the hideout of General Noriega, the Jedis say, Ask Angela Lansbury. Paranoid and nutty as an Almond Joy, Bridges uses pension fund money to hire hookers and, inspired by the discovery that the Russians are torturing kittens in the name of psychic warfare, uses Barney the Purple Dinosaurs I Love You song as a torture technique of his own. When he finally gets a dishonorable discharge, you wonder why it took the Pentagon so long. Using his Jedi powers for evil instead of peace, Mr. Clooney comes unhinged and has Jonathan Demmehomage nightmares called the silence of the goats.
Its episodic and broadly incoherent; the direction is all over the map; and the acting is so atrocious it wouldnt get past a Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal.
Theres a big difference between comic acting and just plain goofing around, but nobody in this movie seems to know it. Mr. Clooney knocks himself out making fun-house faces, but shows no real talent for political satire. (Didnt the people who financed this trash remember him in Three Kings?) The script by Peter Straughan is demented jabberwocky that just makes you groan. Example: The Jedi motto is I will drink your blue water, live in your red clay and eat your green skin. Huh? Say what?
This cinematic Katrina is only 93 minutes long but seems like 93 days of hard labor.
Actually, Spacey's special talent is man bending.
BTW, while I’d probably agree with him in this instance, Rex Reed is to intelligent film criticism what Barack Obama is to modesty, a complete stranger.
My brother and I who never like any movies, just flat out loved the trailer for “Men who stare at goats”.
We’ll be seeing it when it comes out up here.
As for the reviewer, “political satire”? Please. This is just good natured fun. The reviewer might try actually having some. He seems drier than King Tut’s mummy. If he laughed he’d probably fall apart like dust.
Haven't seen the trailer, but the description in the article makes it sound like fun!
I don’t even have to see it to know it’s going to be gay. Clooney will make it so. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I thought that movie was pretty funny. "R-U-N-O-F-T"
Of course, we understand your need to carve out an exception for an homage to the usual anti-McCarthy nonsense, but there's no need to do that for Good Night, and Good Luck Rexy, ol' girl. That one sux, too.
Wow, he makes it sound like a Burt Reynolds movie from the seventies.
Me, too. Res Reed has deplorable taste.
Yeah, I'll be looking forward to renting it from a Redbox (which is how I see all my movies these days).
In giving poor reviews to this picture, Reed praises a film I didn't care for (Good Night, and Good Luck) while panning two Clooney films that I loved (Three Kings and Oh, Brother...) so this one might actually be good.
Holy Crap, I had no idea Rex Reed was still around.
I read a fair number of Reed’s reviews (because I love movies) but unlike some critics I can’t rely on his opinion lining up with mine.
In the course of his review of the Coen bros. A Serious Man
he refers to The Big Lebowski as ‘dreadful’ (IMO it’s extremely funny and a fave of mine, one of just a few DVDs I own) and about the Coens’ Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men (a very very fine film I have watched 3 times) Reed kvetches about ‘a confusing and maddeningly unsatisfactory ending’.
Rotten Tomatoes rating on Goats is a modest 59% so I may rent it eventually but the moral is, I guess, that Reed has an underdeveloped funny bone (yes No Country was a black comedy as well as a thriller and morality tale).
Chigurh was amazing.
Still cannot believe that performance.
He also pans Ocean’s 11, which I thought was completely awesome.
By the way, dittos on Ocean’s 11. Very enjoyable.
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