Judge Ryan Keefer wonders when a turd is flushed and no one is around to hear it, did the turd ever occur?
Never cross a cowboy.
Of all the glorious cinematic gems to cross this justice's bench, nothing much can really be said about Mi Amigo other than, "Hey look, Josh Holloway from Lost is in it." So is this western film worthy of the lineage of Peckinpah, Leone, Ford, or should the backwards talking guy be fearful of the jibberish that this film reeks of?
Facts of the Case
Mi Amigo tells the story of Bobby Ray (Channon Roe, Boogie Nights) and Pal (Holloway), who grow up in the sleepy town of Cherub, Texas. Bobby has dreams of making it big in music, and is really fond of a girl in town named Kitty (Jackie Belvin, Office Space). One day, after Bobby Ray and Pal get into a bar fight with a local fledgling businessman named Cale (Jack Armstrong, 28 Days), the friends team up to take some money from the local bank and decide to hightail it out of town. Things change though when Bobby Ray sees Pal with Kitty, so he leaves them and apparently decides not to speak to them again. When the town celebrates an anniversary, the three of them come back to town to settle some scores.
There are several things that baffle the mind and confound the spirit when it comes to watching Mi Amigo, many of them fall into the traps of the overall bad movie platform. Let's tackle a couple of them.
• It's the movie that the actor who's finally hit big doesn't want you to see. Well, that criteria is for sure, as Mi Amigo comes to DVD four years after it wrapped and while Lost is in the middle of its third season. He is featured prominently on the case, with facial hair that he does not have in the film, and by looking on the back of the case, his name is fourth after the title, even though he "stars as rugged cowboy Pal Grisham," according to the synopsis on the case.
• It features a lack of attention to production detail. The newspapers that are shown to mark time look remarkably modern, but that's not the main thing. When the town celebrates whatever nondescript anniversary it has, the sign on the town says that it's a town "touched by angles." I'm guessing I know what the intended word was supposed to be, but I went with the literal spelling. Needless to say, I was shocked to see that no one had a slide rule or a multi-function calculator as part of the Cherub celebrations or festivities! But I digress.
• The narrative is sloppy and nonsensical. As far as I could tell, I don't know why Bobby Ray was a musician, as he barely touched a guitar. Pal's relationship with Kitty didn't get a lot of exposition until the key event that caused the split, and any plot holes are closed with a lot of randomly convenient points, so many that I was waiting to see old Mr. Watson be unveiled as the man behind the Pirate Ghost, haunting the amusement park.
• The characters are, well, not too appealing, and the so-called comic touches aren't funny. The older Pal is played by Burton Gilliam, who is best known for getting his head hit by a shovel from Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but it seems like he's a step and fetchit character, a bit of an Uncle Tom for redneck cowboys. And to see him in bikini briefs with cowboy boots on is one of several thousand things in my life I could have gone without seeing. The guy who plays Cale in his later years is Tom Everett, a bit player from films like Pearl Harbor. He also does his fair share to set the redneck crowd back a few decades too. And Bobby Ray got famous as a musician, but now he's studying to be a rabbi, yet wants to build something called a "cowboy cathedral?" Stop it, my sides are splitting. Even when Gilliam explained this to him in the film, it wasn't funny then, and it's not gotten any better with age.
Past these obstacles, maybe Mi Amigo isn't that bad. I mean, musician Freddy Fender does appear for a nice song that he sings in a bar with the young Pal and Bobby Ray. Maybe Milton Brown, who wrote and directed the film, and did some music for the epic Burt Reynolds film vehicles Stick and Cannonball Run II should be given a little bit of slack. But when you brag about a movie being in Texas, and you film it on what basically looks like a bad exterior lot (which actually was Alabama, according to the credits, but, really, what's the difference?), then any shot of goodwill has to be wasted. I wanted to like and be surprised by Mi Amigo, but what occurred was a 90 minute period where I balanced by checkbook, did some online surfing, and generally tried whatever I could to avoid paying more attention than I had to on this film that's forgettable to the nth degree.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Nope, I think a thing like Mi Amigo should stand on its own for whatever it is that it's trying to do. If someone wants to save this dog, they're a better man than I am.
As a western, the cowboys are a mix of Tough Guys meets Ride the High Country, except I'm sure no one in the audience was thinking of Joel McCrea or Randolph Scott when they made this film. Surprisingly, some people say that it's a comedy, but correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought a movie had to be funny to be a comedy.
The court allows Mi Amigo to ride into the sunset as quietly as possible, without a lot of fanfare or grief, as it pains the court to hear any attention given to it. Court is dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Velocity Home Entertainment
• Interview with Milton Brown
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