Posted: 03/23/2010


The Men Who Stare at Goats


by Laura Tucker

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To me the most appealing part of The Men Who Stare at Goats is that it just makes you think and makes you wonder. I’m not a huge war or military film buff, nor am I really that big of a fan of George Clooney. But the title of the movie in itself is catchy, and seeing a few promos, it really sparked me as I wanted to find out about this mind control thing.

The movie is based on Jon Ronson’s book of his investigation into the U.S. military and their efforts to control people, things, and animals with mind control. They tell us in the very beginning, “More of this is true than you would believe.” Ronson’s views are seen through Bob Wilton’s (Ewan McGregor) eyes. He’s a journalist in need of a life change after his wife leaves him for their one-armed boss. Wanting to prove to her how much of a man he is, he heads to the war in search of a story.

While waiting to cross the border into Iraq, Bob has a chance meeting with Lyn Cassady (Clooney). He recognizes the name from an earlier interview he did back home. This man had told him of his psyhic abilities and explained he learned of them in a secret section of the military, mentioning Lyn’s name as one of the guys involved. Bob passed this guy off as just as a lunatic, but here he is with Lyn.

Bob finds out more from Lyn himself, as he explains he is trained as a “Jedi” and “Super Soldier.” Reluctantly, Lyn allows Bob to travel with him on his mission, yet isn’t honest with him at all about the true reason for his mission. As they travel, and Lyn seems more and more inept at some of the more simple things in life, but tells Bob more and more of the true story of how he gained these psychic abillities and exactly what his mission is right now.

It’s the reasoning Lyn gives for why the government had them learning psychic abilities that was fascinating. Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) had been in the Vietnam war and had a vision. He noticed that his fellow soldiers had a hard time killing, and being that it was the time of flower children, he had the vision for an army that operated out of peace, where the war could be won without any violence being shed, simply by controlling minds. Lyn Cassady later become one of his top students in this New Age Army he was putting together. When the unit was forced to shut down, they had been working on learning how to kill goats simply by staring at them.

It sounds so bizarre and like it couldn’t possibly happen, but remember the message at the beginning of the movie about more of it being true than we would ever believe. To add credibility to this, at the end, Bob explains that he came back after his adventure with Lyn and wrote about all of it, what he experienced, and what Lyn had told him, yet from all of that, the only thing that was published was that the Army captives were being forced to repeatedly listen to the Barney theme song.

I remember the news story about the Barney theme song. That much is true, but what about the rest of it?

The Men Who Stare at Goats is being released on DVD Tuesday, March 23.

Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at

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