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True Grit

True Grit

What he said:

He

I didn’t even realize it until I started writing this review, but we’ve been on something of a Western kick lately. First we watched the animated, western-influenced flick Rango. Next up was Westworld, and now finally True Grit. Purely unintentional, but it does make me wonder what will pop up in our mailbox next.

I used to enjoy Coen Brother’s movies. I haven’t seen each and every one, but those that I have, I was thoroughly entertained by them. However, after A Serious Man and True Grit, I find myself wondering if they’ve lost their touch.

True Grit is a remake of a John Wayne movie, which was actually based on a book. Still with me?

Jeff Bridges plays the lead character “Rooster” Cogburn; an often drunk, but surprisingly effective U.S. Marshall. Rooster is hired by a young lady (Hailey Steinfeld) to hunt down and capture Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin), the man who is responsible for her father’s death.  Along for the ride is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon).

With names like that, you’d think this movie would be fantastic, right? Well most people would actually agree, but I do not. I found the movie to be incoherent (literally), boring, and oddly paced.

Now I realize they were playing characters from a different part of the country during, with a lower education level, and from different era, but I couldn’t understand at least half of what came out of Jeff Bridges mouth. I mean that literally. I know the character “liked his whiskey” too, but was Bridges really drunk? He was a mumbling mess for most of the movie.  Who was responsible for the final cut of this film? Could this person or persons not pick up on the unintelligible delivery of most of his lines?

Matt Damon’s performance just seemed all wrong. It seemed like they were implying that the character was a bit of a doofus, but that being said his performance simply felt “off” to me. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but I know I wasn’t getting a good vibe from it.

Unfortunately for Josh Brolin, I felt like he came off like a mix of the two characters. After seeing No Country For Old Men, I had figured he was a shoe-in as villain Tom Cheney. But after seeing the performance, he came off like a bumbling, confused, guy who couldn’t scare me on his best day. There was nothing villainous about him and I actually found him to be something of a joke.

When I saw the trailer for this, I saw a gritty (pun intended), dark, and entertaining film. After watching it, I felt completely misled. I found it to be jumbled and boring. Hailey Steinfeld portrayed the extremely stubborn and uptight Mattie Ross just fine, but outside of that I found very few positives in this movie.

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on July 25, 2011.

What he said:

She

I shall be a little more forgiving of this movie than my counterpart.  Yes, it was often hard to understand what the characters were saying, although I think I faired a bit better in that department than The He.  I was able to decipher most of the dialogue, despite the actors’ best efforts at preventing me from doing so.  I’m not sure what was up with the accents.  I didn’t live in the Wild West, and so I guess I’ll never know how muddy the dialect really was.  I’ll have to take the Coen Brother’s word on it.  They spoke pretty darn rough.  But, if you listen carefully to what the characters say you’ll note wit in their dialogue.  Sometimes you won’t really get it, but it’s apparent that this is where any humor in the film lies. 

Overall, True Grit is an adventure/drama.  It’s nice that the story is told from the little girl’s viewpoint.  It adds value to what would otherwise be a pretty basic premise.  But for 14-year-old Mattie, there’s a lot at stake.  She dearly wants to avenge her father’s death.  The critics raved over Hailee Steinfeld’s performance.  I thought it was ok.  By child actor standards, it was pretty good, but Dakota Fanning in her prime probably could have done it better (I can’t believe I’m saying that).  Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are so over-the-top that I’m not sure if their performances are fabulous or terrible.  I think they’re good, but they’re a little too larger-than-life.  I was a bit disappointed by Josh Brolin’s character.  I’m not sure it was Brolin’s fault, but he was clearly described as a mastermind disguised as a buffoon.  When we finally meet him, he just seems like a complete idiot.  I had to keep telling myself that under this façade there was supposedly a brilliant killer.  But there was never a glimpse of it, and so I just interpret it as poor scripting. 

I’ve seen parts of the original True Grit, although I admit I got bored and eventually changed the channel.  This movie lost my interest for about 20 minutes near the middle.  I can see how viewers could easily become impatient if they’re unable to comprehend what the characters are saying, and so this film is definitely not for everyone.  I thought it was ok overall, though.

Thumbs half up.