Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ghost in the Case: Beer for My Horses

Lonnie: "Reverend Parker, that was a wonderful message you gave today."
Rev. Parker: "Really? what was your favorite part?"
Lonnie: "Oh, you know... the whole thing about God being great and the Devil being an ass and stuff"

Ghost here!  Thanks for joining me today for yet another
Every film has an intended audience; some group of people to which the filmmakers will be targeting in regards to content or advertisements.  The Fast and the Furious franchise is obviously catered around young adult males.  Nicholas Sparks adaptations are obviously targeting a female demographic.  My Little Pony is obviously targeting...er....well.. nevermind.  The point is that everyone has a target demographic be it large or small.  That doesn't mean that you have to necessarily be in that target demographic to enjoy the film but in many cases it does help if you happen to be.

In the case of today's film, the intended audience is not just males, but Southern males to be more precise.  The notion that certain films are targeted at a regional demographic is very intriguing especially when they are aimed at Southern viewers, because as you all know, I am from the South.  Honestly the thought was interesting enough to me that I almost made these movie review segments focus solely on films that are about or would be of interest to Southern viewers.  However I can't keep to a single type of review on this blog as is.  I would most likely get bored by the same sort of movie theme... it also doesn't help that many movies aimed at Southerners are for women (debatable comment, I know)

Many critics have slammed today's film left and right... or at least the ones I read on Rotten Tomatoes.  It couldn't be more clear that the people who voiced their opinion of the film were clearly NOT the target demographic.  Spewing absolute nonsense like "uncomfortable bigotry" "racist stereotyping" and "casual sexism" in their reviews.  You'll find none of that hogwash in this film as can be evident by the audience score from the same website being in the 60% area.  So let's ignore what these (probably) Northerners and West Coast people have to say and listen to what an actual Southerner has to say about the film.


Joe Bill "Rack" Racklin (played by Country singer Toby Keith) and Lonnie Freemen (played by Southern comedian Rodney Carrington) are deputy sheriffs in the small town of Mangum, Oklahoma.  The pair are best friends who keep getting the short end of the stick from the sheriff no matter how hard they work.  Rack and Lonnie are assigned stakeout duty at a local farm for the evening as there have been a lot of fertilizer thefts recently.Rack, Lonnie, and their silent fellow deputy Skunk Tarver (played by Ted Nugent) spend the evening at the farm and, after a small shootout and chase, arrest three local thugs and a Mexican drug lord, Tito Garza for stealing liquid fertilizer which was intended to make meth.  In jail, Tito threatens Lonnie that his brother will know that he has been captured and will come after them.

Later, while eating breakfast at the local diner, Rack learns that his old sweetheart Annie is back in town to take care of her ailing mother while her stepfather is "too busy" buying up all the farmland in the surrounding area and generally being a hateful cuss.  Rack goes to meet Annie to catch up on old times and eventually asks her out on a date while bumping into her in town.  The pair go to a movie together and end up spending the night at Rack's place.  The next morning Annie leaves Rack's house while he is still asleep but she never arrives back home; her car being left abandoned on the side of the road with keys and purse still in it.  At the police station, the sheriff gets a call from Tito's brother Manuel Garza who runs the drug cartel.  Manuel demands that his brother be brought to Santa Luna, Mexico in exchange for Annie.

The sheriff takes Rack off the case as it is so personal so that Rack doesn't do anything stupid.  However, Rack, Lonnie, and Skunk, along with Lonnie's lazy flatulent dog Junior, bust Tito out of jail that evening and head towards Mexico in Lonnie's oversize truck. While at a truck stop fueling the truck, Lonnie meets a truck stop hooker named Harveyetta who would like a ride to the next truck stop.  Rack says no and the group head down the road only to find that Harveyetta has sneaked into the truck bed and is now along for the ride.  Stopping to let her get in the truck's cab, Lonnie takes his turn driving while the others rest.  Unfortunately Lonnie begins to stare at a girl who is flashing him from another car and accidentally swerves off the road causing a chunk of wood to pierce completely through the radiator.  Luckily a man named Charlie (played by Willie Nelson) who is the head of a traveling group of circus entertainers, comes along and offers to help them.  He pushes the truck to his campsite where his mechanic fixes the truck overnight.  Harvyetta decides to stay with the circus entertainers.

After a fairly amusing rest stop full of singing thugs, the group arrive in Mexico and ultimately engage in a gunfight against Manuel Garza's men.  During this fight we find out that Annie's stepfather, Buck is also there in Mexico and has been partnering with Manuel for years.  Buck's farmlands are the biggest meth labs in all of Oklahoma.  Buck provides the land and the buildings while Manuel provides the manpower and distribution.  Rack, with the help of an undercover FBI agent, kill Buck and save Annie.  Having handed Manuel and Tito over to the FBI, Rack, Lonnie, Skunk, and Annie return home where they are greeted with applause.

In the next sections I generally do a full list of everything good and everything bad with a film.  This time around I'm only going to mention two things per category because there is a third category I wish to discuss.

What's Good About It?

The first thing that really stood out to me was something very small that many people may not catch. Having never been to Oklahoma in my life I can't say how true it is to the little Southern town depicted in the movie, but I can certainly say that this movie genuinely captures the feel of a small town by one thing and one thing only.  In the beginning of the film, Rack's girlfriend Cammy leaves him and runs over his lawnmower on the way out.  At least twice he is asked about how he and Cammy are doing.  They listen to whatever he has to say then proceed to tell him that he can borrow their lawnmower anytime he needs to.  This is just so typical of a smaller Southern town.  Everyone is concerned and asking you what's happening but yet everyone already knows what's going on with everyone else.  It was played off as a joke but it really hit home.

The second standout portion is the restroom scene.  I'll be perfectly honest with you.  This one scene is the entire reason why I chose to review this movie and it's probably the most memorable scene of the whole film.  It's weird, silly, goofy and kinda funny.  I'll let you just watch the scene in its entirety for yourself.

I'll also be honest with you right now.  If you didn't enjoy that scene then I'd just avoid this movie all together.

What's Bad About It?

Why is it that when a movie has a Southern man in a leading role or the film at large is aimed at Southern men they always strive to hit that low hanging fruit of comedy?  Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure there's probably examples where this is not the case but by and large this happens to be the case.  Beer for My Horses is no different.  Low bathroom humor and crude remarks are littered here and there through the film.  Just a few examples of this are as follows; a woman saying the phrase "well twist my nipples", Lonnie's dog constantly passing gas, a girl flashing the truck while Rodney Carrington's "Show Them To Me" is playing in the background.   Heck, even the best and most memorable scene in the film takes place in a restroom and has Lonnie peeing on the wall/camera.  Now that's not the only humor in the film and the crude bathroom humor isn't overly excessive but it certainly is there and is certainly worthy of a groan or roll of the eyes.

The whole "plot twist" where Annie's stepfather Buck is in league with the drug cartel basically comes out of nowhere and makes little sense in the whole scheme of things.  Yes, we can tell he's not exactly the nicest man in the world since he's making snide comments about Rack's occupation, but there's practically nothing that leads us to think anything else may come into play.  He's there for his introduction scene being snide, he appears for another scene after Annie's kidnapping where he's upset with Rack cause he was the last person who saw her before she went missing, then BAM he's working with the drug cartel.  It also doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the plot as well.  Rack, Lonnie, and Skunk are sent out to stakeout the fertilizer that is being stolen.  If Buck has all this tons of farm land wouldn't it be easy for him to just get the fertilizer on wholesale prices fairly cheap under the story that he plans to use them for his crops?  Now I don't know anything about the fertilizer industry so that may not be a valid option but if it is, why not do that and have Manuel up-charge the drugs a tiny bit to offset that rather than risk someone getting caught?  It's just the sort of thing that screams the need for one more additional re-write to make everything make a tiny bit more sense.

Everything Else

The reason I only selected two things good and two things bad with this film is because everything else is just sort of average.  The acting is passable, the sets do the job that they need to do, the action scenes are adequately shot and paced.  It's altogether just a fairly average film.  As I stated before, some reviewers tossed around terms such as "uncomfortable bigotry" "racist stereotyping" and "casual sexism" but I didn't really see any of it here.  The only thing I could really see as weird is that they keep referring to Tito Garza as "The Mexican."  Now if he were one of the deputies and a friend of theirs I could see where this would be a problem, but Tito is a bad guy...who cares if you insult a villain?  Probably the worst sin this film has is just simply being average and aimed at a smaller demographic than many films.


If you like some slight strangeness, are ok with the occasional crude humor, and like the comedy styling of Rodney Carrington or Larry the Cable Guy then you'll probably like this film decently enough.  As I said, it's just a very average film.  It's trying to cram so many things in there that it would be difficult for any filmmaker to make a masterpiece out of it, but it's just got that charm of a smaller film that is so steeped in regional ideology that I can't say it's a bad film even with its mediocrity.  I highly doubt it will ever be on anyone's Top 10 list of favorite movies but it's a neat way to spend an hour and half.   If you think this might be something you could enjoy then check it out.

Beer for My Horses is rated PG-13 and is available on DVD from Lionsgate

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