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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Though there's plenty of loopy behavior and manipulation here, the film ultimately wants to emphasize how important it is to believe in yourself and trust your instincts.
Positive Role Models
The characters are a flawed, complex group, though most have decent intentions. Bob is adrift in life, and his improbable adventure with Lyn helps him find his path. Lyn seems to have psychic powers, but he feels guilty for a long-past incident in which he was forced to use his powers for cruel purposes. Another character lies and manipulates others to advance his interests.
Violence & Scariness
Much of the movie takes place during the Iraq War, and heavily armed soldiers and military contractors are involved in brief firefights. Flashbacks to the Vietnam War show combat, and a man is shot in the chest. Two characters are kidnapped at gunpoint. Some hand-to-hand fighting, and one character commits suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No sex, but some partial nudity, including topless women in hot tubs and naked men seen from behind and at a distance.
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Many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "damn," "hell," "prick," "goddamn," and more.
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Products & Purchases
References to several well-known companies, including Starbucks, McDonald's, and Halliburton.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several scenes feature drinking and smoking, and some characters take drugs. Two key sequences center on characters tripping on LSD.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this offbeat war comedy based on the same-named book by Jon Ronson could be a magnet for teens intrigued by both the loopy humor and stars George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. Drug use -- presented in a humorous context -- plays a key role in a couple of significant scenes, which means that if your kids see it, a good talk about drugging might be in order. There's also drinking and smoking, some fighting and war-related violence, a fair amount of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), and brief partial nudity (topless women and men's buttocks). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Inspired by journalist Jon Ronson's same-named book, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS is absurdly entertaining, with beautifully rendered scenery and moments small and big filled with quirk and wit. But, like a raconteur who entertains but never quite gets to the point, this comedy doesn't, either. Clooney clearly can make any material seem appealing, and with McGregor in the mix, too, how can you go wrong? But the film ultimately feels aimless and doesn't quite get it right -- it seems to be working toward some sort of grand message about peace in wartime or fighting with the mind and not with weapons, but it never quite arrives
Or maybe it really is just about outsiders within the military who make it their own -- with a hefty dose of help from every other New Age movement. (It also milks the Jedi jokes too much. We get it: Obi-Wan in Iraq.) As a character, Bob is particularly problematic, as he's set up to undergo some kind of transformation. But does he, really? Unfortunately, you're never quite sure. There's nothing to hang on to, no through line to lead viewers to the payoff.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.