Sometimes doing the right thing can get downright ugly.
A very sad thing happened as I pulled out this DVD for its review. As I glanced over the package and saw what it was about and who was starring in it, I had a feeling I wouldn't like the film. The story seemed a bit silly, and the cast didn't really look memorable. And that's where the sadness creeps in. This straight-to-cable flick (it premiered on Starz! in December 2002 with the title of Cowboys and Idiots—a far better and more accurate title) has quite the diverse cast: Joshua Jackson (ugh!), Jamie King (yum!), Matthew Davis (who?), Ryan Hurst (sir, yes, sir!), John Mellencamp (yep, the singer), and DJ Qualls (that very skinny white dude). Of all the things that could possibly spark any sliver of hope that I may enjoy the next 88 minutes is the sad fact that it starred DJ Qualls. That decidedly odd guy is the only thing I liked in Road Trip, I loved him in The New Guy, and I'm seriously miffed that his cool Star Trek line was changed to a Xena reference in The Core.
I hope you'd agree that wishing DJ Qualls would make this movie bearable is a very sad state of affairs.
Facts of the Case
Things are going to get thoroughly discombobulated this weekend for poor young Earl Crest (Joshua Jackson, The Skulls, Dawson's Creek).
Thursday night: A pizza guy is making the rounds in Bennett, Texas, when Junior (DJ Qualls) and Tinker (Ryan Hurst, Saving Private Ryan, Rules of Engagement, We Were Soldiers) decide they are going to rob him. The heist is almost a total failure as the two of them are complete idiots, but somehow Junior manages to grab a bag out of the pizza guy's truck before he gets away. Much to their surprise, there's a lot more than pizza in that bag.
Friday: Enter Earl and his loving girlfriend Baby (Jamie King, Bulletproof Monk, Slackers, Pearl Harbor) as they're getting ready to go to work. It's just another wonderful day, full of the usual friendly jabs and stares from horny men—at Baby, that is. We quickly discover that Earl and Baby are not only boyfriend and girlfriend, but they're also engaged. But even better, they're also brother and sister. Well, step-brother and step-sister actually, but that's close enough for everyone in town to call Baby Earl's sister, much to his chagrin. Earl works with his best bud Jimbo (Matthew Davis, Below, Legally Blonde, Pearl Harbor), an openly gay man in Texas who has actually never dated a man, at the local auto shop. Baby, I believe, works in one of the many local bars. Soon it's Friday night, and, of course, everyone ends up at the local watering hole for some diversion. While there, Earl bumps into Junior, whom he cannot stand but tolerates because Junior is Baby's cousin, and quickly discovers that Junior's been a naughty boy. After a painful ear pull, Junior takes Earl to Tinker's place, where it is learned that Junior and Tinker ended up with $20,000 and half a kilo of drugs from the pizza guy. Fortunately Earl is the only person with a brain in Bennett, so he takes the booty from the two idiots and hides it in town. He will return it to the drug dealers when they eventually come calling.
Saturday: Earl is doing some errands when he's pulled over by Sheriff Andy. The Sheriff is not the smartest fellow around, but he's quite a nice guy. Andy tells Earl that trouble may be afoot for him, as the man who murdered his father 16 years ago has just been paroled. As it was a young Earl that put the man away, the Sheriff fears he may be back for retribution. If that wasn't enough for him to chew on, Baby complicates the situation by telling Earl that it's time to leave Texas. They've been talking about this for years, but she's finally at the end of her rope and she must move to Los Angeles to become an actress on a soap opera. She's worked everything out, and she will use the $2000 they saved and put in the bank, and leave for California on Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Because sweeps week is coming, and Baby believes that they'll need some fresh, new blood for sweeps to boost their ratings. If they leave Tuesday, she'll get there three days before sweeps begin; plenty of time for her to find a job. Not exactly keen on the plan but nonetheless hopelessly in love with Baby, Earl agrees to move to Los Angeles and support his woman.
Sunday: Tinker is not very happy that Earl came waltzing in and stole his drugs. Not being the brightest lad in the state, he kidnaps Earl and Baby to get the goods back. You see, he's already found a buyer for those drugs, and he intends to make $50,000 out of the deal. And so things get very complicated as Earl must now resolve the burgeoning drug issue. He knows he can't let Tinker have them, as the real drug lord will eventually send his men out to retrieve his stuff. He also knows that he's leaving the town in less than 48 hours. Things get very complicated and some less-than-savory individuals do saunter into Bennett looking for the stolen property.
How far will Tinker go to sell his stolen booty? How far will Earl go to protect those that he loves? How far will the drug lord go to get his drugs back?
Let's see what this release schedule tells you:
It tells me that Columbia knew they had a dog, but they were lucky enough to scrape a few bucks from Starz! before dumping this waste of time and money on the public. In case that storyline sounded intriguing or fun, don't believe that assumption. This is a terrible movie that was made to snag a few bucks from the teen market, the obvious target victims.
The entire movie is riddled with insulting clichés about Texas and that presumed lifestyle. If I were to believe everything I saw in this film, I would be led to think that maybe five percent of the population has a brain while the remaining 95% wallow around in stupidity. Knowing how proud Texans are to be from the 28th state in the Union, I'm constantly at a loss for why they are usually portrayed as bumbling backyard hicks. Inbred, lazy, stupid, backwater redneck about sums up the average person in this film. And every one of them is all happy as a pig in mud to be spending their days in boring, simple Bennett. Not a one of them has any real and true ambitions. They're all happy to just follow in their parents' footsteps and continue on a tradition of mediocrity.
While this film is intended to be some blend of drama, comedy, and action, it fails on all fronts. As a drama, it fails in building any true danger or intrigue. How can people who merely stumble from situation to situation create any connection with the audience? As a comedy, it again misses the mark as there's nothing to laugh at, except again for the ineptitude of the screenplay. And, as an action film, it sorely lacks any of the key ingredients to be successful in this venue. The one opportunity it has is squandered with a cheap and condescending ploy. Further, everything is foreshadowed a mile away. Actually, this film is perfect in its failure.
Baby. What kind of name is "Baby?" Why do some screenwriters think it's cute for women to be given such asinine names in films? This ranks right up there with J-Lo's character of "Slim" in Enough. Isn't it bad enough that their role is mediocre that they have to be saddled with such a moniker?
Perhaps the only things in this package that aren't insulting are the transfers. Though I have little doubt that everyone will overlook this film, those few who dare pick it up will at least have a pleasant video and audio experience. You can choose either an anamorphic widescreen or inferior full screen presentation. The video is solid overall with an accurate and broad palette, nice saturation, and no major errors. While there is no obvious edge enhancement or artifacting, the movie does have obvious grain in several scenes and a lack of solid definition in the blacks, which is obviously worse in a couple of the night shots. For this dialogue intensive film, unless you speak French, your only choice is a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. I have no complaints with the audio, as dialogue is cleanly presented from the center, there's some nice—albeit only occasional use—of the surrounds, and the subwoofer cuts in nicely when needed, which isn't all that often. I did appreciate the wide variety of subtitle options available, and think more discs should have as many choices as this one.
Fortunately this is a bare bones disc, so I did not have to endure any more pain and suffering from this puerile attempt at cinema. Actually, there are three trailers on the disc, Lone Star State of Mind, I Spy, and Mr. Deeds, but they aren't ones you really need or want to see.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Normally I would take a contrarian standpoint on the film and attempt to point out some of the potentially redeeming factors in this film. Sorry, I just can't do it this time. I found absolutely nothing in this film to garner my sympathy. While the actors certainly did their best in making this film, no one should have made this film in the first place.
Lone Star State of Mind is a pathetic attempt to try and rake a few bucks from an unsuspecting teen audience that failed in every attempt to be appealing. I can only thank the wise and glorious test audience for their powerful insights into the film and saving the rest of humanity from the drudgery of this waste of celluloid. Please, do not rent nor even contemplate purchasing this disc. Even if you're a proud Texan that rushes to buy any movie showcasing your state, please steer clear. This movie will rob you of your hard earned cash, and you'll get nothing but heartache in return.
Lone Star State of Mind is found guilty of being out of its mind. All parties are hereby sentenced to a psychiatric evaluation at the Karl Childers' Institute of Mental Health.
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Scales of Justice
• Trailers: Lone Star State of Mind, I Spy, and Mr. Deeds
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