Rodeo Girl (2016): Nice Idea Poor Execution (Review)

Sophie Bolen, Derek Brandon in Rodeo Girl

There is a lot that grates about Rodeo Girl. A mother sends her 14 year old daughter off to stay with a father she has not been around for 13 years. On top of this, the man has not had contact with the girl over that time.

Add to this unrealistic scenario supporting actors who cannot act and a predictable storyline and it makes for one disappointing film.  The main protagonists, i.e. Kevin Sorbo and Sophie Bolen do well in their respective roles but everyone else lets the side down.

Badly.

Directed by Joel Paul Reisig from a screenplay co-written by Tricia Hopper and Aletha Rodgers, Rodeo Girl is about Pricilla Williams (Bolen), a young teen who attends boarding schools and shows her hunter/jumper horse off in New England events. 

Pricilla’s mother (Janet Caine)  sends her to be with her biological father so she and her new husband can enjoy a trip to Europe.  The girl’s horse Lucky Lassie,  or “Lassie” as she calls the mare, will accompany her to the wilds of Michigan.

Once there she is rude to Duke (Sorbo), her father, his ranch hand Sage (Derek Brandon) and his girlfriend Laura Mae (Sherryl Despres). Pricilla becomes interested in barrel racing and asks Sage to train her. 

The rest of the film is about Pricilla learning the sport, trying to fit in and Duke trying to be a father to a girl he has not seen since she was one year old.

Rodeo Girl is so slow it can best be described as plodding. The story idea is sound but lacks any excitement or proper execution.  As Pricilla rides “Lassie” she never goes above a canter, or lope, neither of which will win a barrel race.

It seems that this may have been down to safety. Even when she “races” Sage, the horse is not allowed to gallop. That the young teen could come in third place with that slow ambling lope around the barrels could only mean that three riders were competing.

This,  perhaps more than anything else, severely damages the credibility of the film’s premise.  Anyone who has watched barrel racing at rodeos anywhere knows that these young ladies ride those horses “hell for leather” around those barrels. It is exciting and the opportunity for injury is very real.

Another thing letting this film down badly is the script and the abysmal acting by all but Sorbo and Bolen. The delivery of the dialogue is so wooden that  in places, it is almost painful to hear. Clunky and sounding like it has been read off of a cue card, it takes the viewer right out of the film.

Sorbo (a personal favorite from his Hercules: The Legendary Journeys  days) has been making more “inspirational” films of late. “God’s Not Dead” being the best known. The actor’s close brush with death has caused him to do more family friendly films.

Rodeo Girl is family friendly. The harshest word in the film is “darn.” There are no great gouts of blood flying across the screen. No gratuitous sex or over the top violence. Even the fight towards the end of the film is oddly bloodless.

This is a good thing.

However, making a family friendly film, one that a filmgoer can cheerfully take the youngest family members to along with their overly religious grandma, should not be full of bad acting. Neither should it suffer from a poor script and unrealistic scenarios.

On top of all these the film suffered from laughable mistakes.  In one scene, meant to tug at heart strings,  Pricilla runs after the horse and loses her brown cowgirl hat. Sorbo’s character reaches down and picks it up and it is now a black hat.

The most obvious problems come from that slow canter that is meant to win a race against the ranch hand and come in third and second place at the rodeo.  To give some credit where it is due, at the “Nationals” Pricilla and Lassie do really pelt around those barrels. It is, however, too little too late.

Rodeo Girl is a 2.5 star film. It earns one full star for Sorbo. For a film about a girl and a horse the pacing is pedestrian at best. It is streaming on Netflix at the moment. Worth a watch if the viewer knows nothing at all about rodeos or barrell racing.

Hercules With Dwayne Johnson: An Alternative Story of a Demigod (Review/Trailer)

Hercules With Dwayne Johnson: An Alternative Story of a Demigod (Review/Trailer)

The MGM and Paramount feature Hercules, with Dwayne Johnson is an impressive retelling of the legendary myth of a stupendously strong hero in an alternative story of a demigod. While many will automatically think of the actor Kevin Sorbo and his small screen portrayal of the “half God” hero, this film’s different slant on the strongman should put Johnson in a league all his own.

Heaven Is for Real Benefits From Easter Open

Heaven Is for Real Benefits From Easter Open

Somewhat surprisingly, box office reports for the Easter weekend show thatHeaven Is for Real seems to have benefited from opening on the religious holiday. Recently, Hollywood has been stunned to see that audiences are reacting well to “Christian” films. The film Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s reworking of the biblical tale of the ark did very well at the cinema despite the filmmaker’s adjusting the focus of God’s punishment from sin to early man’s destroying the Earth.

 

Heaven Is for Real Benefits From Easter Open

Heaven Is for Real Benefits From Easter Open

Somewhat surprisingly, box office reports for the Easter weekend show thatHeaven Is for Real seems to have benefited from opening on the religious holiday. Recently, Hollywood has been stunned to see that audiences are reacting well to “Christian” films. The film Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s reworking of the biblical tale of the ark did very well at the cinema despite the filmmaker’s adjusting the focus of God’s punishment from sin to early man’s destroying the Earth.

 

If Chins Could Kill! By Bruce Campbell

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First published in 2001 and later in 2009 in the United Kingdom, If Chin’s Could Kill is Bruce’s story of his early life and his involvement with wunderkind Sam Raimi and co.

Written an awful lot like his acting style (not sure if that is actually a good thing or not) the book is entertaining and features a lot of memories from Bruce about: Growing up in Michigan, going to school in Michigan, discovering girls in Michigan, et al.

Yet amazingly the book is not about Michigan. Who’d have thunk it? The book is very entertaining as he relates his relationship with the Raimi family, which includes mom and pop Raimi plus Ted and Owen as well as Sam.

He also talks about filming all those Super 8 films in high school and their timorous expedition into “real” film making; or filming in 16mm and getting it blown up to the requisite 35mm.

Mr Campbell takes us on a ride on the ‘B’ side of the street and explains as humorously as possible about what it takes to be a ‘B’ movie actor and find your self a star as a result. This is a man who has made more independent movies than Carter’s got little pills and he’s only just able to make a living at it.

*At least, that’s his story and I don’t know, call me a sucker; but damn it, I believe him.*

 

The book has been “shot-gunned” with pictures throughout (not stuck in the middle like all those “other” phoney-baloney “star” books) and there are a lot of the young folks who started out on the entertainment road with Bruce.

Who knew?
Who knew?

I enjoyed reading the book that took me literally years to finally purchase. It was only after watching the pilot episode of Burn Notice that I remembered that he had “written” a couple of books on his career.

Since I’ve been a fan ever since watching Evil Dead in an Arkansas drive-in on dollar night, I could not wait to read it. I couldn’t find it anywhere to buy and my local library kept refusing my suggestion that they buy the book just so I could read it.

*A quick note to the author Bruce Campbell.*

Sorry Bruce, but the whole world’s a critic and my arguing that this was an obviously important story that needed to be read by all Bruce Campbell fans everywhere, seemed to fall on deaf ears. To my chagrin they still do not stock your first or even second book, Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way. So I had to stumble upon it completely by accident in my local Waterstones bookstore. I am still hoping to stumble upon your second book the same way.

Right, groveling done, I can go onto the rest of my review, Bruce takes us through his marriages and the birth of his children. He also takes us behind the scenes with Kevin Sorbo (aka Hercules) and what it was like working in New Zealand on the show (and on Xena Warrior Princess).

If you are a Bruce Campbell fan, you’ll love this book. I’ll give it a 5 out of 5 stars because if I concentrate I can hear Bruce reading the book in my head. That’s pretty damned entertaining, I can tell you.

Even Ash thinks it's funny...
Even Ash thinks it’s funny…