Bradley Cooper

The Last Cowboy (2003)

The Last Cowboy ranks in the top half of Hallmark movies, not because of its pedestrian story about an estranged father and daughter in cowboy country but because of the actors who play them. Lance Henriksen and Jennie Garth slip into their roles without fuss, avoiding histrionic confrontations in a script that could easily descend into that.

Garth is Jake Cooper, a Texas girl turned California hotshot who left home eight years earlier and hasn’t looked back. She crashes back into her family’s life after her grandfather passes away, barreling into the funeral at the last minute dressed like she’s ready for a Hollywood costume party. It’s a misleading entrance though because Jake turns out to be nothing like the diva that we expect her to be. Instead, she’s a no-nonsense horse trainer with a gentle side, one that she doesn’t show to her father whom she blames for her mother’s death.

John Cooper, meanwhile, is an old school cowboy, a guy who probably talks more to animals than to people. He’s been running the family ranch, Dry Creek, for years, but with his father’s death, the vultures are circling and he must fend off buyers interested only in carving up the land for profit. John is too emotionally stunted to try to reconcile with Jake, but he warms up to his grandson, and the kid creates an opening for father and daughter to work things out.

The movie slows once everyone tries to figure out how to save Dry Creek and doesn’t really pick up until the very end. There’s a lot of talking and negotiating that gets repetitive. Garth and Henriksen are appealing as stubborn opposites who turn out to have more in common than they let themselves believe. They’re also sympathetic and show off the tender side of their characters that they don’t show each other.

Whenever the plot starts to drag, John’s friend and ranch hand, Amos (M. C. Gainey) steps in. A chatty Texan who mentions cow patties on multiple occasions and regularly throws up the word “ornery,” he’s blessed comic relief. Brad Cooper also makes an appearance and is admittedly why I watched this movie. He plays Jake’s business partner and fellow horse trainer. Fans don’t have too much to look forward to though. Cooper has a few token scenes as Jake’s main cheerleader, supporting her proposal to turn Dry Creek into a training stable and horse rehabilitation center. He also wants to support her romantically, but she first has to work out her relationship with her father.

The movie’s setting offers some nice shots of Texas, or whatever substituted as the filming location. There are plenty of fields for horses to gallop through and we get herds of cattle stirring up dust clouds as the sun blazes down. I always wish for bigger budgets and imaginations when it comes to anything that takes place in open land though. The movie gets boxed in, visually and narratively, but I suppose that’s why it’s on television.

Released: 2017
Dir: Joyce Chopra
Writer: J.P. Martin
Cast: Jennie Garth, Lance Henriksen, Bradley Cooper, M.C. Gainey, Dylan Wagner, John Vargas
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2017

All About Steve

all about steve

I don’t know that I would vote All About Steve the worst movie of 2009, but it rightly deserves some Razzie love for an ill-conceived story about an awkward woman who’s not doing a great job of fitting into society. Those who manage to watch until the end will be awarded with some tender moments when the film seems to find its moral core, but damn, it’s a long, uncomfortable ride there.

Sandra Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle writer for the local paper and the type of person who would assert that “crosswording is the most fun a person can have without passing out.” As it is, she also lives with her parents, is single, and wears her cherry red latex boots everywhere. After some teasing from a group of middle schoolers, she decides to go ahead with a blind date arranged by her parents. He turns out to be Steve (Bradley Cooper), a cameraman for a news network, and man, is he gorgeous.

Mary is immediately smitten, but her infatuation soon morphs into something bordering on obsession. First, she writes a puzzle all about Steve, which gets her fired, and then she takes this as a sign that she should pursue him across the country. Steve’s colleague and on-air reporter, Hartman (Thomas Haden Church), essentially invites her along, hoping that her encyclopedic knowledge will give him the edge he needs to be bumped up to the anchor desk.

There are plenty of Marys to be found in movies and television, and it isn’t her lack of social grace that makes the film hard to watch. She’s an oddball, she knows it, and she tries in her own way to fit in, even if that means standing with her back pressed firmly against the outer edges of society. Instead, it’s the way everyone else treats her that makes you question the movie’s intent.

As a comedy, All About Steve is interested in laughs foremost, and those come solely at the expense of Mary. But what is supposed to be funny comes across as cruel, whether it’s Hartman giving her false hopes that Steve is mad about her or that she is bullied off a bus and left to her own devices. There’s a nagging feeling that everyone’s eyeing each other, trying to make a getaway, but not before needling her just because she’s an easy target. It isn’t until well into the movie that Angus (Ken Jeong), Steve and Hartman’s producer, tries to put a stop to the snickering. He reprimands them like a pair of ill-mannered school children, declaring that Mary is “just a really smart girl with weird boots.”

The actors do their best to extract some compassion out of the script. Cooper avoids playing Steve as a jerk and is more invested in the character as a decent guy who finds himself in a situation he doesn’t know how to get out of. Sometimes this causes him to act in less than admirable ways. As Mary, Bullock puts on her bubbly personality and ends up making her character even more pathetic, like the woman who’s laughing at her own jokes to the sound of crickets. But there’s also a hopefulness to her that gives the film a lift. Maybe she just hasn’t found the right lunch table yet.

Released: 2009
Prod: Sandra Bullock, Mary McLaglen
Dir: Phil Traill
Writer: Kim Barker
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon, Keith David, Holmes Osborne, M.C. Gainey, Howard Hesseman, Beth Grant, Jason Jones
Time: 99 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2015

Valentine’s Day

valentines day

Here is the least painful way to review the scattershot film that is Valentine’s Day. I will give you one handful of plotlines and another handful of stars, and you try to match them up.

1) Girl dates doctor, decides to surprise him, but discovers he is married.
2) Teenage boy and girl decide to have sex, and then don’t.
3) Mom loves her little boy.
4) Boy proposes to girl, she accepts, but everyone knows he should really be dating his best friend.
5) Girl meets nice boy and they hit it off, until he learns that she is a phone sex operator.
6) Girl throws anti-Valentine’s Day party every year to bemoan her single status.
7) Boy loves boy.

A) Hector Elizondo
B) Julia Roberts
C) Anne Hathaway
D) Bradley Cooper
E) Topher Grace
F) Jennifer Garner
G) Jamie Foxx
H) Taylor Lautner
I) Shirley MacLaine
J) Ashton Kutcher

If you haven’t figured it out yet, don’t. This is as close as you will come to caring about this movie anyway. It is as if Garry Marshall and his writing team were afraid that no more romantic comedies would ever be made, ever, ever, and therefore they needed to cram every damn scenario and cliche and demographic and movie star and Taylor Swift song they could into one ginormous motion picture. In fact, the only thing they missed was an animal, possibly cross-species romance. Why didn’t they think of that?!

Since the filmmakers didn’t give this film much thought, I’m going to extend the same courtesy and say only these three things. First, it tries so hard to be Love Actually. It’s not. Know your limits, as in limit your storylines and star wattage. Second, the film takes place in L.A. It’s a fact that almost all the non-white people disappear from L.A. on Valentine’s Day. Finally, this movie reminded me of a Korean pop music video. We all have our favorite member, but he or she only solos for 7 seconds. It also reminded me I would rather watch a K-pop video because it’s shorter by 120 minutes. And they dance.

Released: 2010
Prod: Mike Karz; Wayne Allan Rice
Dir: Garry Marshall
Writer: Katherine Fugate
Cast: Ashton Kutcher; Jennifer Garner; Jamie Foxx; George Lopez; Patrick Dempsey; Julia Roberts; Anne Hathaway; Jessica Biel; Queen Latifah; Bradley Cooper; Eric Dane; Bryce Robinson; Hector Elizondo; Shirley MacLaine; Topher Grace; Taylor Lautner; Taylor Swift; Emma Roberts; Jessica Alba; Kathy Bates; Carter Jenkins; Larry Miller; Kristen Schaal; Erin Matthews
Time: 124 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2014