I don't think Toby Keith will mind if I refer to him as a redneck. While some consider the term derogatory, others wear it as a badge of honor.
I may be wrong, but Toby Keith seems to wear the term "redneck" as a badge of honor.
If you wear the term yourself as a badge of honor, then there's at least a decent chance that you will find yourself enjoying "Beer For My Horses" more than I did.
In the film, Keith plays Rack, a smalltown deputy who inadvertently arrests a Mexican drug dealer (Greg Serano, "In the Valley of Elah") whose brother doesn't take kindly to the arrest and kidnaps Rack's girlfriend (Claire Forlani, who apparently didn't learn her lesson starring in Uwe Boll's "In the Name of the King"). Despite the opposition of the sheriff (Tom Skerritt), Rack heads off with a fellow deputy (country comic Rodney Carrington) and a loose cannon with a bow & arrow (rocker Ted Nugent).
The odds are I could stop this review right here and you would completely understand my rating. After all, how good do you really expect a low-budget 70's style redneck film with Toby Keith as its headliner to be?
Surprisingly, it's actually better than Larry the Cable Guy's abysmal "Witless Prosecution," but we all know that's not saying much.
I couldn't help but think about this film as I've been reading the turmoil over the upcoming Ben Stiller film, "Tropic Thunder," in which the word "retard" is used quite often in a rather derogatory manner. Apparently, the Mexican/Hispanic community isn't quite as up to protesting as it seems like virtually every reference to the Mexican drug dealer is simply as "the Mexican," and noted in a derogatory manner.
The film, loosely based on a Keith song of the same name, seems primarily designed as a trailer park companion (oh, wait. Was that derogatory, too?) to Keith's first film, "Broken Bridges," which also sucked.
Carrington and Keith co-wrote the script, rather stunning given Keith's ability to write, at the very least, interesting and entertaining songs and Carrington's ability to be funny virtually all of the time.
"Beer For My Horses" is neither entertaining nor funny.
The lone exception, really, is an appearance by country singer Willie Nelson as the leader of a traveling circus. This scene is easily the film's most entertaining and imaginative...to such a degree that it almost feels out of place in this otherwise awkwardly unfunny film.
Keith, a bold and "boot in the ass" kind of singer, is amazingly lifeless as Rack, while Carrington goes completely over the top. The vast majority of the supporting cast, with the exception of Claire Forlani and Nelson, simply go through the motions here, perhaps recognizing that this film is destined to be a quick blip at the box-office and an effortless paycheck.
In his feature film directing debut, Michael Salomon shows little imagination. Then again, he's given the almost thankless job of making Keith, Carrington and Nugent look like actors and he's simply not up to the task.
Tech credits are generally functional and the film's soundtrack is a bit of a delight.
If you're a diehard Keith, Carrington or Nugent fan and simply must check this film out, then at least wait until the DVD when you're not wasting as much of your hard-earned cash.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic