Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Roy Huggins (TV series the movie was based on) William Goldman (screenplay)
When I sat down to watch this movie for review I already had many thoughts about what I would write. Things along the lines of “really fun movie but not to be taken seriously” or something like that. However having finished it now I find myself wondering why we ever owned this movie to begin with. Yes it’s a fun movie to a degree but more of a product of its time than anything else. I don’t think this movie really has any lasting power and on top of that it is about 30-45 minutes way too long. This movie is light-hearted and fun but jumps between something silly and something serious far too often. I found the experience of watching it again to be painfully boring at times and I doubt I’ll watch the movie again for a long, long time, if ever at all.
It probably comes as a surprise to any younger person out there but there was a time when Mel Gibson was the darling actor of this country. In the 1990s, and for a while after, the man could seemingly do no wrong. America has always loved Australian actors and before the days of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and the like Mel Gibson was that guy. He had inspired us all with his “brave heart,” stole the heart of our famous Native American with his voice (despite how wrought with inaccuracy that Disney film was), and he….”knew what women wanted.” In truth, his popularity at the time is specifically why we own this movie and why I enjoyed it so much when it came out. The mere fact that this movie was so successful is specifically because everyone loved Mel Gibson. The movie brought in over 100 million in the US box office and that was nothing to sneeze at in 1994. That’s crazy, trust me. You might remember this movie fondly, just as I did, but this is no longer the era of “Mel Gibson is the greatest” and it really isn’t that good of a movie. It’s cool to see Mel Gibson and Richard Donner reunite for something fun and the moment between Gibson and Danny Glover during the bank robbery is quite funny. However that doesn’t make it a good film and as much as I liked this movie when it came out I still found it unbearable to watch this time around.
This film is specifically one of my favorite roles from Jodie Foster. Foster has had a terrific career and has made many notable films but in this film I just thought she was smoking hot as the southern belle. I am not saying this is her best movie, it does not even come close. Speaking in purely acting terms this movie isn’t even on the list of her best parts, but I just thought she was so good-looking in this movie. To think that she made this film the same year she made Nell is crazy because the exact opposite can be said about how she looked in that film. I am not really a Jodie Foster fan but she is such a fascinating person. She recently officially came out as a lesbian and I think I may have been the only person surprised by that news because everybody else seemed to already know. When I think of Jodie Foster I always instinctively think of John Hinckley Jr. How insane it must have been to be her after that man shot the President. For those who don’t know Hinckley was a crazy man who was in love with Jodie Foster and for some reason thought shooting Ronald Reagan would gain him the attention he wanted from her. Seriously crazy guy that she had absolutely nothing to do with but still that realization must have affected her in some way or another.
The coolest thing about this movie, aside from the moment between Gibson and Glover, is that James Garner was cast in a significant part. The film was based on the television show by the same name from the late 50s in which Garner starred as Bret Maverick. I have never seen an episode of the show and don’t know how it correlates with the movie but having the original star involved gives it a certain level of credibility. Beyond that I think there is little to say about this film. It’s way too long at 2 hours and seven minutes. After the big card game the film specifically drags out too far in an effort to set up a sequel that ultimately never happened. As I said in my intro the tone of this film is all wrong as well. It seems lighthearted and silly throughout most of the film but occasionally people are killed and it gets real. It’s always confusing to “get real” during this type of film and I think it sullies the whole thing. Granted it is only the bad guy and his associates that are killed but still, you can’t be silly when you are killing people even if they are the bad guys.
Having said all of that I don’t think this movie is worth your time and I wouldn’t bother seeing it if I were you. It can be fun with all the card playing and the parts that are humorous but it’s not worth the time it takes to watch it. This movie could have been cut by at least 45 minutes and been better. It was all good in the Mel Gibson hey day but that day is over and now it has little to offer. It does not even belong in our collection and I only took the time to actually review it because otherwise the time I spent watching it again would have been a complete waste.
I was not interested in this movie. I didn’t even know we owned it. Mel Gibson is not my favorite nor Ryan’s so I still don’t really get why we own this movie. I paid attention, somewhat to the movie, but I didn’t really like the plot, or the actors roles in the movie. Having said that, I really didn’t pay that close attention to it, so what I say isn’t really fair. It had a hard time capturing and keeping my attention.
There is just so much going on this poster. It has no focal point whatsoever. There is a background that fades into the skyline of the mountains? The are posed like they are in a photo featured on awkward family photos. They too are faded at the bottom into a mountain scene. There is nothing really good about the typography of the title. I don’t even want to give this one any more time. The poster does for me about what the movie does and that’s not much.
NEXT MOVIE: Meet Joe Black (1998)