Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 44: True Grit (2010)

PG-13, 1 hr. 50 min. Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. Release Date: December 22, 2010.

When I was a kid, my parents would occasionally leave me in the care of family friends who lived nearby, when my parents decided to go out somewhere and didn't want me in tow. Leo worked with my dad at Lockheed, and he seemed to enjoy encouraging my love of movies, introducing me to really good flicks that I probably wouldn't have seen today if it wasn't for his attention. I don't remember when it started, or if they'd always rented a movie when they knew I was coming, but the movies that were rented were rarely movies that had been made during my lifetime. One time, after I'd mentioned to him that I "didn't like westerns," Leo brought home the original True Grit, with the "the Duke" himself, John Wayne. I remember loving the movie at the time, although I couldn't remember anything about it once I finally got around to watching it this afternoon. While Leo didn't cure me of my general dislike for westerns, he did introduce me to John Wayne… and Blade Runner, 2001, 2010 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, among other cinema classics.  Thanks to Leo, I still like John Wayne movies. Between Leo and his wife, Karmel, the two of them probably covered my education in classic movies, westerns, mid-century sci-fi, and 80s teen movies. It was always good times at their place.

If the Duke was alive today, I have to imagine he'd be… pleased as punch what was done to this movie. The story line has some differences in this revision of the original, but it keeps to the same spirit that I remember. I still don't like Westerns, but I liked this. The main character, a young girl trying to avenger her father's death, was played with remarkable skill for someone who is not only young, but I believe a complete unknown. My only complaint is they worked so VERY hard to make her unattractive. If I was a praying man, I'd be praying that the mustache she rocks in this movie isn't hers, or if it is, that it's something that can be removed with bleach or that NADS stuff. Someone should really be talking to her about how much she looked like a young Sam Sheppard. [Okay, I was inspired to do a little IMDB research, and her head shot on the True Grit page there was gorgeous, so we can all rest easy.] But man, they messed her up almost as badly as Charlize Theron got messed up in Monster.

As impressed as I was with ole Haillee what's-her-name, that plays the main character, she wasn't in this by herself. There were a few people in this that I generally don't like, and one that I haven't liked since Trey Parker ruined him in Team America. Maa-tt Daaa-munn. Cheebus. What I really like about this movie, which I don't remember being a part of the 1969 version, was that this wasn't just a western with the stereotypical cowboys and Indians. There are a few shoot-em-ups, some pretty nice suspense sequences, and some great comedy shorts built in to this. I realized pretty quickly that, despite my initial resistance to seeing this, that my buddy Stretch was right: it's very easy to get caught up in the action and adventure that is portrayed here.