Director Grant Heslov co-wrote “Good Night, and Good Luck,” an atmospheric portrait of Edward R. Murrow in the rough and tumble Joe McCarthy 1950s. But asking him to hold together a screwball parody about a secret military unit trained as paranormal warriors proves a bridge too far.
Small-town Michigan newspaper reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor, whose American speech coach failed him) stumbles on the New Earth Army, a goofy unit with a psychedelic past. Despondent after a failed marriage, Bob ventures to Iraq where he meets “Jedi” Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), who was once the Timothy Leary Brigade’s rising star.
Since there’s no story here other than the mocking the New Age psycho-ops, Heslow falls back on Bob’s tedious narration, plenty of desert shots, and star turns by New Earth founder Bill Django (Jeff Bridges, in Lebowski-Dude mode) and the meanly mischievous Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey). At the top of his game, Lyn stopped a goat’s heart just by staring it down. He also practices “remote view” and “cloud bursting,” neither of appear to accomplish much.
But the wild and quirky premise is burdened by McEwen’s uninspired narration and a the parody of melancholia it broadcasts. As screwball, it fails to tighten hinges; as anti-war parable and New Age satire, substance fails humor. “We must be the first superpower to create super powers,” says the smiling, pony-tailed Jango. Lyn never smiles, which leaves the goats to steal the show.