|Add together some horses, a few hollywood heart-throbs, and the old west, and you've got a mildly entertaining western flick designed mainly to attract some young guys and their dates into the movie theater. And since I didn't go to this movie expecting anything more, I have to say I enjoyed it. Though it didn't surprise me in any way, it did do what was expected. It meanders around the West for about two hours and ends up with the typical grand finale and western type shootout, but it never reaches that "I got all teary eyed at the end" point. And that's something that i wished would have happened in the end.|
The romantic west angle wasn't too played out here so in some spots and it makes the film fall a little short of allowing the audience to make some sort of emotional attachment to the characters. So you have some cowboys and their antics but you don't always really care about the characters themselves. And since this movie is a costume drama (okay, adventure comedy) you kind of need some kind of attachment to the characters so that you won't be lost in the era. This movie was also highly populated with small and unknown actors so you've got to deal with characters who you don't always care about and no star power to back them up.
I suppose I was just looking for a little bit more emotion in the story. Even when Kathy Bates entered the story and a bunch of emotional stuff happens, it still didn't seem like the filmmakers made it possible to care enough about the cast. But that doesn't mean they didn't try their hardest to put a nice twist on the story of Jessie James and his gang. In this version of twisted history, James and his friends rob trains and become outlaws because of the big bad railroad and the men who run it want to buy the gang's family farms. Illegally if necessary.
So the plot's a pretty standard one. Though it's an interesting twist on the james story, it's not possible to say that the screenwriting is too impressive. The characters don't seem too smart. Unlike some of the other comedies with an audience, this movie doesn't really seek to make its characters look like they have real brains. It begins with somewhat lame dialogue, and finishes with a plot that really can't challenge the actors. The small amount of smarts in the film belong to Gabriel Macht, who plays "Frank James." He has several joking lines about education and plays the smart kid in the gang pretty well. But aside from a few cracks about this, there's nothing really that intelligent in the film that's not some sort of joke.
But it is still a large factor that this movie doesn't really reach the audience on a level that allows the viewer to forget the lumpy and sometimes sappy script. It's possible to have a bad script that really doesn't matter if you have the right cast. Unfortunately, this film wasn't really cast very well. Sure, there are some humourous moments, and there are times when you know the filmmakers are trying to make you cry.
But I can't say I ever saw a moment in the film where it really felt like I cared about anybody in the cast. Oh, and Ali Larter was not very impressive in this film. Her performance really didn't show any chemistry with with Colin Farrell's Jessie James character. Who is supposed to be her love interest. Perhaps the only redeeming quality of her character was that she could handle the action and a gun pretty well on her own.
A good strong woman character that is somewhat of a rarity in a Western. But that doesn't mean she was convincing in her character. So, as a final blow to the egos of the filmmakers who made American Outlaws, although this film has its entertaining moments, this movie really isn't something worth paying a bunch for to see in the theater. There's really not too much character or script development.
To really be a worthwhile movie, the filmmakers should have thought more about their characters and less about the costume and makeup for their actors. The acting ain't all that bad, so a little concentration on character probably could have benefited the movie. It looks like the screenwriters here were really put on the back burner on the list of priorities. The casting directors probably had the upper hand on this production. Beautiful faces were probably much more important than anything those faces had to say.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.