The movie starts out as possibly the world's blackest comedy, setting the scene with a bunch of reservist soldiers in the Persian Gulf just after the war ended in 1991. They find a secret map in a guy's ass crack, and conclude that it's probably a map to all that gold bullion (not to be mistaken for "bouillon," used for making soup - as one of the characters does). Eventually, Major Archie Gates (George Clooney), Sergeant Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Chief Elgin (Ice Cube), and Private Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) set out on a totally unsanctioned expedition to recover the gold. Things don't exactly go their way.
The movie is pretty much unclassifiable: it starts out as a black-as-crude-oil comedy with wicked commentary on greed, consumerism and racism, but it humanizes its characters on both sides of the conflict and morphs into something about the horrors of war - it gets pretty damn visceral and unsettling. You'll laugh. You'll be uncomfortable that you laughed. And you'll think - a lot.
This is my second viewing of this movie, and I'm going with my previous assessment: this is a really, really good movie that - while well reviewed - just isn't well enough known.
The DVD also has that rarest of things, a fascinating director's commentary. David O. Russell talks about the decisions he made, the ideas he was pushing, and the structure of the movie: director commentaries are never this good.