Monday, October 4, 2010
Your enjoyment of Pure Country will probably depend on how big a George Strait fan you are. IF you're crazy about Strait, you'll love this movie. IF you can't stand him or Country Music, then you'll hate this movie. IF, like myself, you don't have any strong feelings about Strait one way or the other, you will probably find Pure Country just okay.
George Strait plays Dusty Wyatt Chandler who goes by the singular stage name Dusty. His concert show is a big extravaganza with lots of lights and explosions (think Garth Brooks) with the music secondary. Dusty tires of all of this and one night he literally walks away from it all. He walks and hitchhikes, stopping once at a small town barber shop to get a clean shave and his ponytail cut off. Dusty eventually winds up back home at his Grandma's and later at his old honky-tonk. At the honky-tonk he gets drunk and after getting his ass whipped in a fight, he's taken home by the young lady he was trying to protect. Needless to say there's a love connection between Harley (Isabel Glasser) and Dusty and he stays on at her struggling ranch, which is helmed by Rory Calhoun in his last movie appearance.
Once his old manager, Lesley Ann Warren (who rocks the leather outfits she wears in the movie, but needs to stay out of "mom" bluejeans), hunts him down and convinces Harley that she is Dusty's wife, Harley becomes heartbroken and shuns Dusty. This results in Dusty going back on the road with his band, but now toning his show down to a more basic performance. Dusty and Harley's paths cross again in Las Vegas, where Dusty is doing a show and as a hackneyed plot device would have it, Harley is competing at a rodeo in Vegas at the same time.
In another hackneyed plot device, Harley's whole family, who go honky-tonking on a regular basis at Dusty's old honky-tonk, never figured out Dusty's real identity. Even though at one point in the movie, after his old friend Earl Blackstock (John Doe, who must have decided IF George Strait doesn't have to attempt any acting, neither will he) tracks Dusty down, the two do an impromptu performance on the back porch of the ranch. If you couldn't guess by now, the movie ends on a happy note with lots of crying from Harley (who for most of her scenes in Pure Country either acted mad, cried, or grinned like someone without good sense....none of this I blame on her, since I assume it was the directions she was given)
Pure Country had all the earmarks of a made for TV movie that would play fine on CMT or even on Lifetime. I was surprised to find that it had a theatrical release (although not a very successful one). There were so many song performances in Pure Country, they made the movie drag on a little too long (112 minutes) for me. On the other hand, most people who watch Pure Country are going to be there for George Strait in the first place and may even wish the movie was longer. As for myself, I find George Strait a likable person and a really good neo-traditionalist country singer, but as far as movie making goes, he's a much better singer than an actor. I imagine George thought the same thing, since in the follow-up (not really a sequel) to this movie, Pure Country 2: The Gift, which is supposed to be released this year, it doesn't appear George is going to be doing any acting, since the cast lists him only as "Country Music Star".