Worth A Look: 14.29%
Just Average: 4.08%
Pretty Crappy: 14.29%
2 reviews, 37 user ratings
by Erik Childress
Maybe I’m old fashioned because I still listen to music on CDs and maybe I’m excluded from a lot of stimulating conversations because my collection hasn’t really found a home for either rap or country. There two music stylings couldn’t be further apart in audience or culture and yet both have had the gumption to mosy-on-over or shoot their way into movie audience hearts. Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and Ludacris on one side; Willie Nelson, George Strait and Tim McGraw on the other. The latest in the all-country-star lineup is Toby Keith, who really made a name for himself in the wake of 9/11 preaching patriotism and southern justice in songs that could be the theme music for conservative politicans or any Fox News Channel anchor. Politics aside though, Keith is a big hulk of a dude and it would have served him better to pick a project that didn’t accentuate a character who stumbles around an aimless plot with the same confusion of Bruce Banner coming down from one of his “smash” moods.Opening the film is footage of young armed forces troops preparing for the last of many training exercises before they are shipped off. The helicopter crashes killing, seemingly, about every son from a small southern town as some sort of biblical vengeance for producing Toby Keith’s acting debut. Among the fallen are the younger brothers of Angela Delton (Kelly Preston) and Bo Price (Toby Keith), a piece of information handed down to her rebellious 16-year old daughter, Dixie (Lindsey Haun) as such – “Your father’s brother is dead...and my brother.” You see, Angela & Bo were high school sweethearts. Angela got pregnant at 17 and he ran off. There’s much more to this historical footnote, as explained by Angela’s mother’s best friend (Anna Maria Horsford) involving abortions and an old friend of Angela (Katie Finneran, playing it like Bonnie Raitt’s whorish younger sister), but you’ll need a decoder ring to decipher it. If you’re doing the math, you will quickly conclude that this makes Preston’s character either 33 or 34, and although she’s still incredibly attractive, no DeLorean can change the fact that both her and Keith look in their mid-40s.
"Pure Country Shit"
Preston also left town years ago, much to the chagrin of her father (Burt Reynolds) who apparently believes she left her younger brother behind and never looked back. Except his granddaughter mentions meeting her Uncle and how nice he was to her grandmother (Tess Harper) so he must have made a trip to the big city where big sister became a big TV reporter. Angela, under suggestion by her boss, brings her job with her to the small town so she can capture her hometown grief as a human interest story. Barking to her cameraman, “get a shot of me so you can see those old men wiggling in the background” suggests she learned everything she knows about reporting from Tillie Sullivan on Dog Bites Man.
These are all just incidental moments though with no consequence or further discussion to provide some semblance of a goings-on as Keith’s Bo must find a way to reconnect with his old beau, meet his granddaughter, get back on the Bandit’s good side while offering him sage advice on the side, write that new country song, help Dixie with hers, sing a few others and stay on the wagon. The opening scene shows him downing alcohol (and “keep ‘em coming”) then every scene after he reminds someone that he has quit drinking. When did this happen? Are we supposed to believe him just cause he disgustingly breathes on Preston? And what of their progress towards reconciliation? It begins with dialogue like:
“Do you still get insomnia?”
“Don’t you pretend like you know who I am anymore.”
Then ends with him telling her that she’s “done good” with their daughter, despite her not supporting her singing career and allowing her to become the kind of teenager who tries to “break all ten commandments in one night” and later trades one loser boyfriend for the next wife-beater in training in mom’s town whose idea of a date is to reenact a “Ford Tough” truck commercial and for an encore – attempted rape. Bo keeps reminding Dixie this his blood is running through her veins as if that’s a positive. Let’s face it. The only thing mom has “done good” is Toby Keith.
If the review appears a bit directionless I apologize, but I felt it appropriate to pay tribute to Keith’s eye-for-an-eye lyrical incantations by framing the review as much as I could to match director Steven Goldmann and screenwriters Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld’s complete disregard for structure and development on the simplest of plots. (Gottesfeld’s chops reside from Smallville and Bennett’s comes from soap opera, Port Charles.) Much like its distant cousin, the benign Pure Country (which served as George Strait’s one-and-only starring vehicle), Broken Bridges’ story involves a country singer coming back to his roots, reconnecting with a gal from back in the day and ending with a lovely ballad meant to bring the house down. This time the honor belongs to his daughter though, but no matter how sweet her voice is or how American Idol-ish the chorus is – it’s impossible to lift the spirits of an audience who just suffered through the first 95 minutes of the CMT’s first (and hopefully last) theatrical offering.
If Vincent D’Onofrio’s Gomer Pyle from Full Metal Jacket didn’t eat a bullet in the toilet he probably would have lived to become Bo Price and write songs that all derive from the word “broken.” I’m not kidding when I say that if you listen hard enough, it seems as if any song that they ask demand your attention all have the word “broken” in it somewhere and that the track listing would look as follows:
1. Broken Bridges
2. Broken and Busted
3. Broken Times
4. Broken Face Pudding
5. Flat Broke and Broken
6. Broken (duet w/ Amy Lee)
7. Kaput the Germans
8. Broken Steak Ass (‘til the break of dawn)
9. Ow, I Broke Me Balls
10. Dubya Ain’t Broken, He’s My BrotherMaybe these are songs that appeal to the average Toby Keith fan, whose repertoire includes such memorable ditties, “Get Drunk and Be Somebody,” “Getcha Some,” and “Beer For My Horses”. Not to make him sound like the musical equivalent of Larry the Cable Guy, but this is the level at which the film fits into the cultural landscape. The kind where a town-wide memorial for their fallen sons goes from a moment of silence to a standing ovation for special guest, Willie Nelson, before the “Amen” is completed. My point being that Steven Goldmann can hang on his final shot of a pink door like he was filming the ending of The Searchers all he likes while yee-hawing “thank god I’m a country boy” but even the most secular of Toby Keith enthusiasts couldn’t lie to their reflections that this is an even passably-made work of drama.
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originally posted: 09/08/06 18:25:54