Monday, September 14, 2009

Beer for my Horses

'Beer for my Horses' has the dubious distinction of being a movie based off a song - Toby Keith's 2003 duet of the same name with country legend Willie Nelson.

Toby Keith stars as 'Rack' Racklin, the deputy sheriff of a small town in Oklahoma. Keith's surprisingly good, too - more so than you'd expect considering he was once described as; 'so redneck, his family tree has a noose hanging from it.'

Playing out like a modern-day Western, 'Beer for my Horses' sees our small-town lawman encounter some big-city trouble following the chance arrest of a ruthless Mexican drug-dealer.

When the drug cartel make off with Racklin's new girlfriend, the lawman's forced to recruit a makeshift band of vigilantes (including country-fried co-stars Ted Nugent and Rodney Carrington) and seek justice south of the border.

Formulaic stuff? Indubitably - but 'Beer for my Horses' manages to defy expectations despite having a script lifted straight out of the 'cliche' bin. Part action movie, part road-trip and part character comedy, the journey to the inevitable 'high noon' showdown is anything but predictable.

When the movie first opens, following Toby Keith as he dispenses small-town justice, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's going to be a gentle character piece about love and law in America's heartland. It's well-scripted, rich and worthy - the sort of thing my mother likes to watch.

Who knew Toby Keith could act?

But things go off on a rapid tangent when the kidnapping takes place - and Racklin and his buddies saddle up a souped-up Ford F-150 to take justice south of the Mexican border. The middle of the movie is a unabashed road-trip flick - filled with comic characters and highway misadventures familiar to anybody who's enjoyed Road Trip or Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.

When Willie Nelson makes a pot-smoking cameo, you know you're in 'Road-Trip' territory.

And the climax of the movie? A different direction all over again. Suddenly, 'Beer for my Horses' takes a leaf out of those old Steven Seagal movies and the showdown with the drug cartel is a violent mish-mash of explosions and rattling machine-guns.

Real life suvivalist nutcase Ted Nugent plays 'Skunk,' a survivalist nutcase.

It's like three movies in one - and reaps the best bits from all of them.

What makes this disjointed approach work so well is the ensemble cast - especially supporting lead Rodney Carrington. As Toby Keith's bumbling deputy, he keeps up a steady flow of slapstick comedy throughout the movie - and fortunately, more gags hit than miss. His consistency smooths the transition between segments.

Unsurprisingly, since Carrington co-wrote the script, he gets all the best scenes (including an impromptu rest-stop musical number) but Ted Nugent's also terrifyingly memorable as fellow deputy 'Skunk' - despite having just one line in the entire movie!

When it all comes together, you're left with a surprisingly adept movie. Held together by a killer soundtrack (thanks to the lineup of country co-stars) and some solid cinematics, 'Beer for my Horses' makes excellent fodder for a popcorn-guzzling evening of entertainment - and even stands up well to repeat viewing.

'Beer for my Horses' starring Toby Keith and Rodney Carrington is available now from Wal-Mart and online retailers, priced $14.99.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review! I thought this movie was just pure fun! Good entertainment in a world that needs a laugh. Thanks Rodney, Toby and the gang for a fun ride!