The Men Who Stare at Goats

Rated 3.0

Ewan McGregor plays a timid Midwestern reporter investigating a covert U.S. military unit of psychically trained “warrior monks,” including George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Even with that cast and with the drolly comprehending source material of British journalist Jon Ronson’s book, director Grant Heslov’s film remains strangely uninspired—it’s just not the movie that a topical and true-enough tale of paranormal warfare deserves. Evoking the similarly disclaimed and similarly misfired 2007 war farce The Hunting Party, a title card avows upfront that “more of this is true than you would believe,” but then the tone of screenwriter Peter Straughan’s adaptation becomes boringly coy, and its dissent on torture doesn’t quite take. Worse, having so laboriously ensconced them within the haphazardly organized maze of the movie’s structure, Heslov leaves his deadpan-preening actors with nowhere to go. Thus, like the shaggy, stubborn subjects of their daffy telekinetic experiments, they mostly stand around chewing their own cud. Heh. Goats are kinda funny, though.