The Men Who Stare at Goats

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is a 2009 comedy film about a reporter who attempts to uncover the story of the so-called "Project: Jedi," a secret government organization dedicated to creating psychic super-soldiers with the goal of bringing about world peace.

He eventually manages to find one of the former members of this New Earth Army, who is on a secret mission in Iraq, and joins him. Hilarity Ensues.

Based on a book, which in turn was an account of a true story. No, really.

Tropes used in The Men Who Stare at Goats include:

Larry: Lieutenant Colonel Django used funds from the project's black budget to procure prostitutes...
Bill: That's a lie!
Larry: ...and to get drugs for himself and his men.
Bill: That... (a beat) ...well, the hooker thing is definitely a lie.

  • Subliminal Seduction: The PSIC company gives soldiers music CD's containing subliminal messages such as "Don't get drunk before operating a machine gun."
  • There Was a Door: With an M113 armored transport "You're gonna hit the fence! You're gonna hit the fence! crash It's cool! You missed it!"
  • Too Funny to Be Evil: How PSIC's "dark side" experiments get played in the press at the end of the movie.
  • Touch of Death: Lyn believes that his cancer was caused by a death touch performed on him by Larry almost 20 years before.
  • Training From Hell: Played with. When Lyn joins New Earth Army, Django at first comes across as a Drill Sergeant Nasty. Only to relent and say he was joking. During the dance sequence some of that drill sergeant stuff was comically invoked in order to get Lyn to join in. However much of it is played straight. Walking on hot coals in an effort to try to make their feet invulnerable, driving while blind and no solid food for the first week. Played horrifyingly straight, when Hooper and PSIC force prisoners on LSD and Strobe lights while listening to the "I Love You." Song.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Several of the main characters are based on real people, and the basic background about the training is based on actual experiments. As the opening puts it, "More of this is true than you would believe." How much? Read the First Earth Battalion Wikipedia article. Notably, the Actor Allusion criticized by so many reviews was real - McGregor has explained in interviews that they really did call themselves Jedi warriors, and even noted during filming the oddity of it after playing young Obi-Wan.
    • If nothing else what is true is that some very strange things can, do and have been funded and experimented with by armies and intelligence agencies when they manage to find the right patron and there's even a vague suspicion that the opposing force may be experimenting with something similar.
  • Walking Techbane: Hopgood only discovered Lyn because one day Lyn walked into a room and psychically bricked every computer in it as he walked past.

Hopgood: Did you make those computers go out?
Lin: (sadly sheepish) Yes, sir.
Hopgood: (grinning broadly) Far out!

  • Warrior Monk: One of Bill Django's goals was to create this trope.
  • War On Terror: The trunk narrative takes place in war-torn Iraq.