| Quirky characters and wacky, offbeat humor provide escapist fun in this political anti-war movie. The oddball title only gives viewers a hint of what this madcap comedy adventure is about.
After being dumped by his wife, Ann Arbor journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) discovers the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn. S. Cassady (George Clooney) at a hotel in Kuwait City. Cassady claims to be a former member of an army unit that fought with their minds.
The two men cross the border into Iraq searching for pony-tailed hippie guru Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), the founder of the peace-loving New Earth Battalion that used psychic powers to give their enemies the disincentive to engage in combat.
The movie alternates between a buddy-style road trip in 2003 and crazy flashbacks to the unconventional training at Fort Bragg in 1983. The movie gets off to a strong start that is both amusing and highly entertaining. The visual sight gags from the past including the staredown of a goat are far superior to the nomadic desert scenes.
The movie can't maintain the high level of incredulity. It drags, sputters and then loses its fizz. The movie goes on a little too long and all of its creative juices dry up when the three principals reunite.
Kevin Spacey plays the villainous role of spoon-bending Larry Hooper. There is a subtle New Age message advocating love and peace. These drugged-out, lunatic soldiers refer to themselves as Jedi warriors, an obvious reference to the "Star War" movies. This is an inside joke since McGregor actually played Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Bridges gives the standout performance which will remind viewers of his Dude role in "The Big Lebowski." McGregor (who also narrates) plays the straight man to Clooney's eccentric dancing school operator who believes he still his extrasensory abilities.
This unusual, absurdist movie is the directorial debut of Clooney's longtime pal Grant Heslov (producer and co-writer of "Good Night, And Good Luck"). Peter Straughan's ("How to Lose Friends & Alienate People") screenplay adaptation is inspired by Jon Ronson's nonfiction book.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"