Grant Heslov‘s war comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats premiered recently in Venice and will soon be playing the Toronto International Film Festival. Positive reviews are coming in, and the underlying impression is that if you were hoping for a kooky, madcap comedy based on the trailer, that’s more or less exactly what you’ll get. To bolster that impression, distributor Overture has released a short clip featuring George Clooney and Ewan McGregor; see it after the break.
Variety has the most overt rave out of Venice, calling the film “A serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one,” and “a superbly written loony-tunes satire, played by a tony cast at the top of its game.” THR‘s take is basically “a wild spoof,” while noting that “even if The Men Who Stare at Goats is not worth comparing to Dr. Strangelove, it should satisfy audiences with its great cast and patent absurdities.” And really, if the film was worth comparing to Kubrick’s movie, wouldn’t that be a stunning achievement? Screen Daily (“a light-hearted and highly entertaining antidote to pompous large scale movies about Iraq or Afghanistan”) and In Contention (“A trim, lively comedy”) basically fall in line, though the latter notes that Goats “doesn’t make too many demands of its audience.” I can live with that.
Finally, there’s this clip, which I like better than the trailer. It supports the notion that we might be seeing some great comedic performances, and hints at Variety’s ‘loony-tunes satire’ angle. The trailer didn’t wow me like it did many others, but after this I’m a bit more ready for my screening.
The Men Who Stare at Goats follows a journalist played by Ewan McGregor as he shadows U.S. Army First Earth Battalion unit member Lyn Cassady (Clooney), who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit using ancient Chinese mind techniques to develop paranormal powers for American soldiers. The film opens on November 6 of this year.