a double review of the new George Clooney movie, The Men Who Stare At Goats …
He’s a Daper Dan Man: Clooney Comes Close to Creating a Coen Brothers Film
By Bill Bodkin
You’ve got to admire George Clooney for making this film. The man is Hollywood’s golden boy, the Sinatra of our time. He can easily be taking “lay-ups” with big budget epics or another Ocean’s film that will no doubt rake in a bazillion dollars.
So why make The Men Who Stare At Goats? He already has Up In The Air coming out in a few weeks which has tons of Oscar buzz and The Fantastic Mr. Fox is giving him tons of art house street cred due to his association with Wes Anderson.
To me this movie got made because Clooney is the king of Hollywood. He’s got carte blanche to do whatever he wants and when you have that much freedom (and that much money to spend) you can either A.) do the easy aforementioned films that will rake in a bazillion dollars, or B.) make films you believe are creatively satisfying.
And I believe B is our answer.
This is Clooney’s second attempt at creating his own version of a Coen Brothers film. Off the wall characters are thrown into an almost unbelievable, yet somehow-it-probably-has-happened situation. Inspired music choices, an A-list supporting cast and tremendously written comic verbosity. All the tell-tale signs of classic Coen. It makes sense why Clooney would want to replicate these films — it’s what brought him to the dance. After portraying the “suave eddie” Dr. Ross on ER, Clooney was mired in a string of bad action flicks and romantic comedies. It wasn’t until the Coens’ O, Brother Where Art Thou? when audiences took Clooney seriously as both a tremendously funny leading man and an actor that when left to his own devices can pick great, meaty roles.
Clooney tried this before (and failed) with Leatherheads — a screwball comedy that just never found the mark. He comes much closer to the mark with Goats, although he’s still a bit off.
The End is the Beginning is The End: A Psychedelic Comedy that Eventually Falters
By Brent Johnson
The trailer for The Men Who Stare At Goats gave me high hopes. My excitement prickled at what looked like a whacked-out, 21st Century-psychedelia flick with a wonderful title and a kooky performance from George Clooney, a great actor no longer trapped by his movie-star image.
It delivered on some of that promise:
1. It’s whacked-out as hell. And consistently funny for 45 minutes.
2. Clooney is kooky indeed. But I read one reviewer put it this way:
Here, he melds one of his charming, smirk-cocked performances with one of his nuanced dramatic performances. He’s a lot better here than the trailer implies — more solemn than you’d expect from what seems like an off-beat role.
But the movie loses the plot about halfway in. It’s got a plot, alright. About a secret army faction that wears long hair and pretends to be mind-bending Jedis. But I’m still waiting for someone to explain what happens in the last 20 minutes.
And Kevin Spacey. Seriously. What ever happened to Kevin Spacey? Is he dead-set on standing around being smug in the few movies he’s in anymore? For a two-time Oscar winner, he sure doesn’t stretch much.
The moral of Goats? Quirk doesn’t carry a film if the plot doesn’t finish its story.
P.S. — Kudos, though, for the most chuckle-inducing poster (shown above).
P.P.S. — This film also wins bonus points for showing me what Nick Offerman looks like without his lip whiskers. Usually, he’s Ron Swanson, the mustached MVP of my favorite new TV show, Parks And Recreation — someone who is quickly becoming my favorite TV character of all-time.
P.P.P.S. — I like Leatherheads, the last film Clooney directed. It’s not genius, but it brings the screwball comedy into the modern era — and thus adds one thing that often makes me cringe about movies made before 1960: natural acting.