Movie review:
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The key question about The Men Who Stare at Goats is not whether it is true (though it allegedly is).

The key question is whether it will make you laugh.

No allegedly about it - it will.

Grant Heslov's wild comedy is a delicious and funny trip through the powers of the mind - and the powers of suggestion. And it's suggested that you laugh heartily at this shaggy "true" story of weird American experiments in brain power and thought control. You couldn't ask for a better cast of actors for this offbeat and frequently hilarious tale.

Based on a nonfiction book by Jon Ronson, Heslov's film is told by Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), a newspaper reporter who stumbles upon this story while working for a small-town paper. A local man (Stephen Root) tells him a wild tale about a special U.S. Army unit of "psychic warriors," naming names and dates. But Bob's editor pooh-poohs the tale - just before he runs away with Bob's wife.

Distraught, Bob gets himself embedded as a reporter in Iraq, looking for the excitement and romance of the war correspondent. Instead, he is stuck hanging around a hotel pool, until he stumbles across one of the names - Lyn Cassady - that his crackpot source had mentioned, staying at the same hotel. When he approaches Cassady (George Clooney), however, Cassady denies any knowledge - of anything - then tries to disappear.

But he can't shake Bob, and they wind up as traveling companions on a secret mission into Iraq, where Lyn begins to unspool the history of America's First Earth Battalion. It's a wildly unlikely tale, involving an officer, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), who undergoes experiments involving LSD in the 1960s that open his mind to the possibilities of creating a top-secret unit of soldiers with psychic abilities.

He fashions a squad of "warrior monks," capable of astral-projecting, reading minds, walking through walls - even using their psychological powers to slay small animals (such as goats). But, as Bob finally learns, Django has gone missing - and Cassady's mission is to find him.

The mission is a mix of high and low comedy - a blend of funny lines and bizarre slapstick, as Bob and Lyn traverse the Iraq countryside in search of Django. Along the way, Lyn seems to alternately prove and disprove his own abilities to Bob - even as he talks about the ways the First Earth Battalion went wrong, thanks to a snake in the psychic Eden named Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey).


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