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American Women's Club of Hamburg

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Starts March 4

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is a reporter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. He learns of a group of soldiers who, led by Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), had formed a secret New Earth Army unit to teach paranormal philosophy, a movement in which the men develop psychic powers to use as weapons in combat in the 1970s. After the attack on the World Trade Center the group re-forms, because “now more than ever we need the Jedi.” They are older but still basically hippies at heart. Two members, Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney) and Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), are openly antagonistic.

The film directed by Grant Heslov is based on the book of the same name by British writer Jon Ronsun. Supposedly, Ronsun researched real military companies who truly do develop psychological techniques to destroy the enemy, even if, in this film, the enemy is a goat which drops dead when George Clooney gives it the evil eye. I admit that Clooney has mystic powers to sell millions of cups of coffee on television and bring screaming fans to a standstill, but goats are another matter. Anyway, how many goats must die to save the world from terror? Just the notion that the story is based on a so-called factual book is quite scary, but might partly explain the sad state of the world with its unending wars and loss of lives. As my physician says, “The only difference between the psychiatrist and the patient is that the psychiatrist has the key.”  

This is a comedy without women which might explain why it’s not funny. In the first five minutes, the only woman, Bob’s wife Debora Wilton (Rebecca Mader), leaves him for another man, thus pushing him over the edge and off to Kuwait City as an “embedded” journalist. He says, “I am a reporter. I go where the story is.” What a waste of a first-class cast, although I image they had fun filming on location in Puerto Rico, New Mexico and California. Clooney as a hippie is a sight to behold, not because he is believable, but because he models a nice idea for a Halloween costume.

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