This leisurely-paced prairie yarn allows top flight actors the chance to chew on their farmland roles while rolling each twang of their regional accents over on their tongues. Given the slightness of the material, actor-director Tommy Lee Jones milks the gentle crises for all their
savoriness and lets his characters ramble on to self-awareness as if taking a long time to react was a quantitative way of measuring honesty.
Roving cattle-man Hewey Calloway (Tommy Lee Jones) temporarily tires of pulling up stakes and heads his weary bones toward the homestead of his brother Walter (Terry Kinney), Walter's wife Eve (Frances McDormand), and their sons Tommy (Blayne Weaver) and Cotton (Matt Damon), who has a mechanical
aptitude he uses to service the family land. En route to this surprise family reunion, Hewey gets into a scuffle with a gung-ho Sheriff whom the cowboy is forced to knock out (never realizing trumped-up attempted murder charges will follow this incident).
After Cotton has improved the struggling Calloways' drained resources with a windmill, greedy landowner C.C. Tarpley (Wilford Brimley) and his banker crony Fat Gervin (Walter Olkewicz) eye this property covetously. Pitching in without committing himself to put down roots, Hewey courts an
independent schoolmarm, Spring Renfro (Sissy Spacek), who fears Hewey's gypsy soul will rise again. With reports of the trumped-up charges making his stay problematic, Hewey accepts a hitch transporting horses with his nephews for Alvin Lawdermilk (Richard Jones). After encountering old pal Snort
Yarnell (Sam Shepard), with whom he competes in a roping competition, Hewey and Snort anger a motorist by lassoing his new automobile; a resulting fracas leaves Walter with a leg injury that puts farm labor out of the question.
Placating a furious Eve by completing Walter's chores (although Tarpley undercuts their crop sales), Hewey accepts a helping hand from Blue Hannigan (Larry Mahan) and markets Walter's feed well enough to save the Calloway land. After that pesky sheriff is persuaded to drop his charges, Cotton
pursues his dream career as car mechanic. Bidding his lady fair farewell, Hewey remains true to his vagabond nature and heads for a cattle job down Mexico way.
Sporting monikers like Snort and Cotton, the characters in THE GOOD OLD BOYS are a picturesque lot given to spouting pithy down-home phrases. If you're tolerant of this sort of rustic folk poetry, this mild western adventure may be just your cup of saspirilla. By contrast with the protagonists,
the progress-worshipping auto owners are a fast-talkin' contentious lot.
Still, if this elegy isn't quite a prairie MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Tommy Lee Jones sets himself on a nostalgic saddle and rides tall, investing the homesteaders plight with simple dignity. Although Jones' lead role fits him like a second skin and although it's always a pleasure to be warmed by
Spacek's grace under fire, the other actors perform variations on MA AND PA KETTLE OUT WEST. A pleasant lonesome cowhand saga, GOOD OLD BOYS breaks no new trails but amiably canters past the fading wild frontier with loving powers of observation.(Violence, profanity, adult situations, substanceabuse.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: This leisurely-paced prairie yarn allows top flight actors the chance to chew on their farmland roles while rolling each twang of their regional accents over on their tongues. Given the slightness of the material, actor-director Tommy Lee Jones milks the g… (more)