Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Reasons #46 & #52 Why Not to Go to the Movie Theatre: A Review of The Men Who Stare At Goats

#46: Movie Concession Stands That Think They Are Inside of Yankee Stadium

If ticket prices and people's disrespect for acting decently in public aren't enough, try the disappearance of the small soda from the menu and $7.50(not a typo) for a large popcorn (or is that jumbo, super jumbo or extreme size?)

#52 Endless Trailers (That Make Actual Movie Start Times Lies)

I love movie trailers more than pretty much anyone. I follow about 10 movie blogs that features tons of trailers on a daily basis and I practically watch all of them. This may skew my view on this subject (since most trailer they show in theaters that I have any interest in I have watched multiple times online). That said, I go to the movies to see the movie and while the trailers are often better than the movies themselves, the ad infinitum slapdash placement of trailers before every movie has to stop. Three is a good number. It's just right as Goldilocks would say. But seven is excessive. No matter how good the seventh trailer is it has to overcome the anger that I have built when I continue to see green MPAA rating screens.

The fault is partially with the theater and partially with the studios attaching trailers to movies and partially on the viewer. If viewers complained, things would change. Yet, the new theory in film releasing seems to be keep showing the trailer to build anticipation for months and months leading up to that all important opening weekend. Instead of tempting palettes with a taste as it was done for years, there are 5 alternate versions of the trailer which all seem to tell the story andif you see them all, you don't need to see the ACTUAL movie.

The first trailer for Up in the Air made sense, another George Clooney movie attached to the George Clooney movie I was currently seeing. It looked fantastic. If it had ended there, dayeinu. But it didn't. Next was the weird combination of creepy horror/Iraq war film starring the Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Natalie Portman as a MILF called Brothers. The story seems to be about Maguire dying while off to war and Gyllenhaal as his brother who shacks up with his wife after his death. The twist... duhn duhn duhnnnn, he's not dead. He comes back as a enraged soldier. It actually looks like an interesting role for the usually mild mannered and buttoned up Maguire. Coming from director Jim Sheridan (In The Name of the Father, My Left Foot, In America) call me intrigued but doubting of the possible excellence of this movie.

Trailer numero tres is where the souring begins with Did You Hear About the Morgans? A fish out of water romcom with Hugh Grant & Sarah Jessica Parker. Alright, they can't all be gold. But there's more. How about Mel Gibson (with a Boston accent)'s return to Ransom/Payback angry man with a vengeance form. I have seen this about ten times and I expect to see it about 50 more times before I buy ticket. Watch it for yourself:

Then there is some weird ass horror movie called The Crazies starring either the guy from Transformers or the bad guy from the last Die Hard (the one with Justin Long from the Mac commercials as a hacker), I can't tell them apart.

Last but certainly not least is the trailer that within 2 seconds had the guy sitting next to me saying, "Oh... Bourne." The guy can't be blamed for confusing Green Zone with a new Bourne since that's what the studio is hoping. It doesn't help the confusion when it says, "From the Director of The Bourne Supremacy & The Bourne Ultimatum."

What movie am I seeing again?

The Men Who Stare At Goats is the kind of film I'm glad I didn't convince someone to go with me too. A film that looks good from a trailer even better when looking at the poster but seems undercooked on the whole. The film is based around on naive reporter (Ewan McGregor) and soldier (George Clooney) who claims to have telekinetic skills that he learned as part of a special unit in the army led by a hippie Vietnam vet (Jeff Bridges). Throw in Kevin Spacey as Clooney's nemesis and you have quite the intriguing premise.

The film flashes between McGregor's attempt at redemption as a reporter tried to becoming an entrenched reporter in Iraq and flashbacks explaining Clooney's stories of training as part of Bridge's New Earth Army. McGregor is trying to prove to something to his wife that left him for his one armed boss. This narrative is interspersed with Clooney/Bridges/Spacey training scenes with soldiers taking psychadelic drugs to expand there minds and letting their dance out to classic rock are highlights if only to see Clooney dance to Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself". As Bridges tells him, "You have to free your feet before you can free your mind."

Gotta love the stache.

main issue is execution & casting. Clooney is very good in his kookier comedic mode (akin to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind & Intolerable Cruelty not Ocean's 11 & Michael Clayton). The scenes with McGregor seem to quite lifeless than the rest of the film yet the problem is that he is the film's obtrusive narrator as well. Then there is the continual running joke that the whole New Earth Army was based on the Jedis and how McGregor seems flabbergasted by this (when he played Obi Wan in the latest garbage trilogy of Star Wars and you'd think he'd avoid any script that even gets close to mentioning the word Jedi, but he gets some credit for poking fun at himself.) Spacey also seems a bit lost and not in on the joke. Both may not be in on the joke because the joke just isn't that funny.

The Men Who Stare at Goats tries to be quirky but the overall outcome is a flat movie with a lot of dry spells and a 90 minute movie that feels longer than it is. If not for Clooney's performance (who gives a quick ass flash for the female fans), this movie would be a definite pass. When it's going well, the overall product is entertaining enough to hold your attention. So if you stumble onto Goats a few years on TV, it is worth giving a try.

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