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The Men Who Stare at Goats 2009

Critics score:
52 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine: At once optimistic about what the military could do if it replaced its guns with flowers, and cynical about what the non-believers and opportunists can - and did - do to that dream Read more

A.O. Scott, At the Movies: Everyone involved seems to have had a pretty good time, but this one looks like it was more fun to make than it is to watch. Read more

Scott Von Doviak, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com: At its best, Goats maintains a giddy Dr. Strangelove-via-the-Coen-Brothers vibe. Read more

Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies: Caution: Staring at 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' may result in your falling down laughing, courtesy of a devilishly smart script, subversive japery and a flawlessly funny cast. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: You may wonder if this screen version of the book of the same name is as unfunny and strangely mushy as it seems, but trust your instincts. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: The Men Who Stare at Goats doesn't stay with you long, but it's good fun while it lasts. Read more

Noel Murray, AV Club: It's ... two-thirds of the way to being awesome. Had Heslov eased back a bit, Goats might've made it the rest of the way. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: For a movie that searches constantly for a consistent feel, sometimes within the same scene, The Men Who Stare at Goats is remarkably entertaining. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: You can't make this stuff up, but you can botch the telling of it, and that's what sinks this satiric drama based loosely on a 2004 nonfiction book by London-based journalist Jon Ronson. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: If there doesn't seem to be enough story here to make a movie, seeing the film's practiced farceurs at work can't help but be amusing. A lot more fun, all things considered, than trying to will yourself through a wall. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Clooney and Bridges model an assortment of wigs and facial hair as they labor to put across their outsize characters. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: It probably sounded funny on paper, and yes, onscreen, there are a few moments of deadpan wackiness. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: It seems too much a privilege to be chuckling in the theater about psychic warfare while the unfunny business of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: This is grizzled, wild-eyed Clooney, not the suave sophisticate, and it's a nice change of pace. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: The Men Who Stare at Goats is a magical-realist sitcom war farce that ends up being about nothing but its own slovenly smugness. Read more

C. Robert Cargill, Film.com: Definitely a film for those looking for something off the beaten path, though the lack of a more defined plot keeps this from being a must-see film. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: The Men Who Stare at Goats is a premise in wait for a movie -- the pilot episode for a TV series that got canceled before it got cooking. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: All in all, Goats would have been groaningly familiar, even back in the 1960s. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: Clooney gives it everything, but what does he get in return? A void where the story is meant to be. Read more

Anthony Venutolo, Newark Star-Ledger: What had been a slightly quirky satire becomes first a wild comedy, then an impassioned expose. Taking itself too seriously (and treating the military as a joke), it quickly begins to unravel. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: The narrative flips and flops ruin the comedic flow. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: Heslov directs for the first time in a career that, I pray, will consist of one movie. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: Intended as a farcical antidote to big-screen bores about Afghanistan and Iraq, it's twice as pompous and endlessly tedious. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: It's broad and yet realistic, silly and yet never exhuberantly goofy. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: The Men Who Stare at Goats has a glorious good time satirizing the extravagant lengths to which the military and intelligence establishments will go if they think there's a payoff at the other end. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: The Men Who Stare at Goats is a comedy, and I laughed quite a few times while watching it, but that sobering reality almost makes me want to cry. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: Equal parts "Dr. Strangelove," "Three Kings" and a Hope/Crosby "Road" picture. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: It actually doesn't matter if the book is truthful. It doesn't claim the paranormal powers are real. Ronson simply says some officials thought they might be -- and that if they were, we had to get there first. The movie is funny either way. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: It's hard to resist a satire, even when it wobbles, that insists the most unbelievable parts are the most true. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com: There's no doubt we need more movies for grown-ups, with jokes that don't hit us over the head, but The Men Who Stare at Goats doesn't fit the bill. At best, it might hypnotize you into a stupor. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: There's not much of a story here. All that energy, all that enthusiasm and all that self-generated propulsion are about one thing: distracting us from realizing it. Read more

David Germain, Associated Press: In fits and starts, director Heslov captures a lot of the drolly incredulous spirit of the book. It's just too bad the dots don't connect better. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The yarn unravels without ever identifying its satirical targets. Is it a lampoon of peace-and-love mysticism? A critique of militant war-for-profit privateers? Ultimately, it's a shapeless wad of goat cheese. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The closer you look at The Men Who Stare at Goats, the better you see that its shaggy coat is covering some pointed truths. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: If this is what a Hollywood liberal conscience looks like, it's a glib and useless thing. Read more

Linda Barnard, Toronto Star: The picture lacks discipline and focus at times, but it's fun despite the chaos, although a wandering-in-the-desert scene goes on far too long. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: Read more

Ben Walters, Time Out: Feels less like a transcendental breakthrough than a bit of conjuring misdirection. Fun trick, though. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: This is the anti-Hurt Locker experience: Where that Iraq War film was absorbing and deadly serious, The Men Who Stare at Goats is irreverent and lighthearted. Read more

Derek Elley, Variety: A serendipitous marriage of talent in which all hearts seem to beat as one. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: What's mildly exasperating is that there is an actual quest involved: The Men Who Stare at Goats goes out to the desert in search of its tone-and never finds it. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: The sense of emotional detachment keeps things feeling smooth and low-key, but, as is clear in the film's last few scenes, the playful tone shades into the simply trivial, which in the setting doesn't quite play. Read more