STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Here's a true story. George Clooney is the star of three movies this fall. Kenneth Turan reviews Clooney's latest.
KENNETH TURAN: �The Men Who Stare at Goats� sounds like an ethnographic documentary about the Bushmen of the Kalahari. But if you're expecting something like that, you're going to be surprised.
Instead, first-time director Grant Heslov has come up with a quirky comedic drama about one of the strangest aspects of the real live modern American Army. In 1979, some high-ranking officers preached that the techniques and beliefs of the New Age counterculture could transform military practice.
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Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (Actor): (As Bill Django) We must become the first superpower to develop superpowers; we must create warrior monks, men and women who can fall in love with everyone, sense plant auras, pass through walls, stop saying mindless clich�s, and see into the future.
TURAN: That dream, described by Jeff Bridges, didn't happen and this film isn't a complete success either. But it's still worth watching, because it's a showcase for a group of actors � Bridges, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey � who really appreciate this kind of farce.
George Clooney plays a soldier who has a special gift for staring at goats so hard bad things happen. To the goats.
Clooney is a funny guy, often when you least expect it. He's matched, stride for stride, by Bridges as the ultimate military hippie, and Spacey in the small but juicy role of the Darth Vader of the organization. But the problem is we don't get to these guys until 15 or 20 minutes into the picture. Instead we have to deal with a boring journalist, played by Ewan McGregor, before the fun can start.
The Men Who Stare at Goats is at its best when it talks about the origins of this New Age Army. It all started with an earnest general who so worried that the Russians would get the jump on us with psychological weapons that he personally tried to walk through walls. It didn't work.
There doesn't seem to be enough story here to make a whole movie, but seeing the film's practiced farceurs at work can't help but be amusing. A lot more fun than trying to will yourself through a wall.
INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
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