Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rustlers' Rhapsody (Review)

     "Rustlers' Rhapsody" is one of those forgotten gems from the 80's.  A western spoof that doesn't take its self too seriously and is completely conscious of its self, but, at the same time, still works as a movie and manages to be very funny.

     The concept here is simple, and is spelled out in narration at the beginning of the film.  What if all those serial westerns of the 40's and 50's were done today.  (And by 'today,' I mean the mid 80's.)  After a quick shift from black and white to color, we get a spoof of those old westerns, and the later spaghetti westerns, with some classic elements, like the good guy always wins, he never draws first, and he never kills anyone, he just disarms them, and a modern look at a lot of those old western cliches, like the way the good guy dressed, and how every single western was, pretty much, identical, (which is why they're called cliches) plus some added modern elements, like a bit of sex and drug (root) use.  The characters are all western cliches as well.  Tom Berenger plays Rex O'Herlihan, The Singing Cowboy, (the what?) G.W. Bailey is the town drunk and Rex's sidekick, Marilu Henner is the prostitute with a heart of gold, (who doesn't actually sleep with her clients) Andy Griffith is the cattle baron (bad guy), and Fernando Rey is a spaghetti western-esque railroad tycoon.  (Another bad guy!)  There's even a second good guy, played by Patrick Wayne, leaving everyone to wonder, what happens when two good guys fight each other. 

     Berenger and Bailey compliment each other well and Bailey's character provides some great comic relief to the stiff and proper Rex O'Herlihan, stereotypical western good guy, but the real star of this movie is the screenplay.  Every western movie cliche is picked out and dissected.  Nothing is left unexamined and every one is turned on it's ear in ways that should have been obvious while we were all watching those old westerns.  Maybe they were a bit obvious, but we were able to forgive them because the good guy always won and we always knew where we stood with them.  

     "Rustlers' Rhapsody" may not be as well known or have the star power "Blazing Saddles," but it is a unique and very funny western comedy/spoof.  I can safely recommend it to anyone, but especially to anyone who fondly remembers a time when movies cost a nickle, Hopalong Cassidy always got his man, and you could sit through both showings of a double feature, twice. 

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