On The Couch #13: The Men Who Stare at Goats

I couldn’t help but think of Lost while watching The Men Who Stare at Goats. If the Dharma Initiative were run by the US Army, I think the end result would be The New World Army.

The Dharma Army wants you!

Similar to the Dharma Initiative, The New World Army waas the US Army’s foray into psychic warfare. Soldier turned smelly hippie turned smelly hippie soldier Jeff Bridges writes a manual for unlocking the mind’s true potential, a program that consists mainly of yoga, tai chi, and moustache growing. It’s never stated explicitly, but if you have any desire to harness the true potential of your mind, it seems you have to grow a bitchin’ ‘stache.

Don’t be fooled by the hair, his power is in his moustache.

And man, what things the powers unlocked by a bitchin’ ‘stache can do! Kill goats by staring at them for a few hours, make clouds disappear by staring at them and possibly running through walls (though there’s always the risk your ‘stache isn’t bitchin’ enough yet and you just end up with a concussion).

The Lost parallel goes a little further. Half the movie is set in the present day, with Ewan McGregor playing a reporter researching what happened to The New World Army after its disbanding and the other half of the movie taking place in the past, showing Jeff Bridges’ recruitment and development of The New World Army. The main reason that Ewan McGregor is doing this research is because his wife in the movie, played by Rebecca Mader aka Charlotte from Lost, has cheated on him with his one-handed editor, and he feels he needs to prove himself in her eyes to win her back.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll have plenty to smile about. Besides, Ewan McGregor being in the film, The New World Army soldiers are called Jedi Warriors (because Regan had a thing for Star Wars). The best line in the movie has to be McGregor asking “What’s a Jedi?” Thankfully, in all the talk about psychic potential, there was no mention of midiclorians.

Maybe the Sith never would have won if Obi-Wan had this bitchin’ ‘stache.

A good bit of military intelligence comedy comes in the pitching of the idea to top military brass. The US has to do this, because the Soviets have begun researching the paranormal because they heard a rumor that the US is already doing it. Whether this rumor that the Soviets are actually doing it doesn’t matter, if the Soviets believe the US is conducting this research, then the US must, or else risk falling behind, but quite possibly the Soviets haven’t started this research either.

On another level, the movie is about the question where do old dogs go. The guys in the New World Army are filled with purpose during their recruitment and training in the 1980s, but seem out of place without the backing of a president who regularly saw a psychic for advice. In the present day, they’re wandering around, waiting for a purpose. Is this what getting old is about, regardless of bitchin’ ‘stache status?

Bitchin’ ‘stache K-Pax!

The Men Who Stare at Goats gets three stars on Netflix from me, which translates to I liked it. Before posting this, two friends already told me I was nuts for liking this movie though, so your mileage may vary.