TRUTH is certainly stranger than fiction in Grant Heslov’s black comedy, inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction best-seller of the same name.
Prefaced by a disclaimer – “More of this is true than you would believe” – The Men Who Stare At Goats constructs a deranged tale of US servicemen who are trained to become Jedi warriors, capable of killing the enemy with mind-power alone.
The soldiers harness this extra-sensory perception and telepathy by staring for hours at goats, hanging bags of sand on parts of their anatomy that shouldn’t see the light of day in public, and telling themselves they can pass through solid objects.
Of course, it’s all hogwash but that doesn’t stop General Hopgood (Stephen Lang) rising from his desk in the amusing opening sequence, announcing loudly, “I’m going into the next office,” then running full pelt at a solid wall.
Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is embedded in Iraq during the early years of the invasion, scrabbling around for a story.
By chance, he encounters oddball Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), who makes outlandish claims about being part of the so-called New Earth Army – an experimental US military unit dedicated to the art of mental warfare.
Lyn regales Bob with tall tales of his escapades, including how he once killed a goat by staring down the cloven-hoofed beast.
Lyn is on a mission to track down the New Earth Army’s one-time commander Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), who has disappeared without trace.
This is a scatter-brained road movie in the company of another hilarious misfit from Clooney’s ever-expanding repertoire.
McGregor plays the straight man throughout as our eyes and ears to the escalating madness, culminating in a memorable LSD trip in the desert.