The Men Who Stare at Goats, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, screenplay by Peter Straughan, adapted from a book by Jon Ronson, and directed by Grant Heslov.

In many ways this is George Clooney’s creation. He’s listed as one of the producers. Producers are the guys (and it is usually men) who get the money together to make a movie. Because he’s George Clooney he can do that kind of thing. Other people will fling money at him, because it’s a no-lose situation, a film starring George Clooney is bound to make money, and if it’s any good, it’ll make a lot of money, but the stars need to be aligned.

George Clooney stars with different haircuts and uniforms, but the same sugary smile he’s perfected over the years. His character Lyn Skip Cassady is ex-American army, and there are flashbacks to the time when the US military set up a shadowy organisation to create psychic warriors and conquer hearts and minds by making love, not war. Army maverick Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) led them to places they couldn’t have dreamed. Bridges re-jigs his role as The Dude, but in army military bases.  But The Men Who Stare at Goats is much more fun than The Big Lebowski. I laughed  aloud several times, and that doesn’t usually happen unless an old woman falls in front of a truck after jumping over a skipping rope.

We know all this because Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) tells us about his journey with Cassady on the road to enlightenment in an Iraq that is being liberated or conquered by American troops (depending on your point of view). There’s the realist tone Umberto Eco adopts in his masterpiece Foucault’s Pendulum with the ridiculous rubbing shoulders with reality. Cassady regrets, for example, under military orders letting his ego run wild, staring at a goat and stopping its heart. He admits that it might just have been coincidence, him staring and the bleating animal’s heart stopping, but he doesn’t believe in coincidences.

Cassady’s mission is so hush-hush, he’s not even sure what it is himself. He needs to find his former guru, The Dudeless Bill Django in a desert without road signs. The right road is often the wrong road as they are taken hostage by Islamic fundamentalists. But that’s a mere blip in Cassady’s inner radar, as Bob Wilton makes the inner journey from sceptic to true believer.

Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) is our Judas and nemesis of free-love and free-wheeling Django and Cassady in the military and world at large. (This was before Spacey was publically shamed, some would see that as proof of the dark side. Other examples being the large numbers of cast members that died in strange circumstance after making The Omen).

Whatever—this is a great and fun movie. George Clooney has never been better as George Clooney, Ewan McGregor even gets in on the act. Well worth watching for Dude-less fans. Try it.


Saw this in the theater when it came out and enjoyed it very much. The wife was unimpressed..

It appealed to me Otterman. I can sit through so-called comedies and not laugh once. Anytihing with Dan Acryod springs to mind, but there are so many other dull, stupid, movies marketed as being funny. I guess I've just got a funny-funny bone. 


I have heard/herd mainly good things about this and really must watch. Thankfully the woman falling over the skipping rope in front of the truck made a full recovery. She was saved by a passerby who applied mouth to mouth whilst laughing the whole time..


sounds like a good idea marinda, I don't often have those, but I live in hope. 


Just watched it on iPlayer. Didn't really do a lot for me. It was OK. Better than Lebowski? How very dare you, sir!!

I wasn't a fan of The Great Lebowski. OK is good for comedy. I didn't laugh once at the Lebowski. I think I laughed three times at the men who stared at goats. Once when he was staring at clouds and drove into the only rock in the desert. And at the end when they'd laced the food with LSD, then he admitted he'd also laced the water- they'd been drinking. That was funny. 


Don't remember laughing, just sympathising with him about feeling guilty for killing the goat, (am vegan). Film seemed  pleased with itself, look we are doing satire, we care. But I didn't like the Big Lebrowski either...

We started watching the Mauritanian last night. Two prisoners were talking, one said he'd given the interrogator a name, the other was horrified, till told the name was Omar Sharif. That made me laugh