Movie Review: Country Strong

Sometimes, I see a movie.

If I'm lucky, the movie has the word 'zombie' in the title.  Juvenile?  Tasteless?  Crass?

Maybe, but I like what I like.

I like movies to scare me.  In fact, I dare them to try.  Go ahead, movie -- be scarier than the IRS or this economy or my rapid approach toward full-fledged codger-hood.  You think you've got what it takes to scare me?  Me, who recently had a colonoscopy?

Ha.  Fill yer fists, movie. Hit me with your best shot.

The last movie that truly frightened me was 'On the Beach.'  The 1960s version.  That was the bleakest, scariest thing I've seen in a long time.  I won't ever watch it again.  No zombies, either.  Just quiet, inescapable doom.

With zombies, you at least get a dash of fun.  Zombies stumble.  They're easy to shoot and run over.  They can't figure out doorknobs.  They're a lot like the people you see waddling around every day in Wal-Mart, aside of course from the craving for warm human flesh.  But there are an awful lot of them, and like bills from AT&T, zombies just keep coming...

Which brings us, oddly enough, to "Country Strong," which features not one zombie, unless you count the various living dead subplots stumbling around in search of something to bite.

Let's be fair, though.  A movie set against the backdrop of the country music scene is not one I'm likely to praise.  Twangy guitars and honky tonks and endless repetitions of Waylon and Willie is just not my cup of hemlock.

But, to my surprise, the music in the movie was actually good.  Which saved the thing from being a total loss,  because the characters reminded me of characters in a game of "Clue."  Draw a card, do something random.  He is sleeping with her, who is married to him, who is looking for an affair with her, who winds up sleeping with him, round and round we go, do I care, the answer is no.

Here's my summary of the film.  It contains spoilers, so if you plan to see the movie, stop reading now.

We're drunk.  We're sober.  We're going back onstage.  We're drunk.  We crash and burn.  We're sober.  We get another shot.  Oh my, is that vodka?  We're drunk.  We don't even make it onto the stage.  We're sober.  We get one more shot.  We perform brilliantly.  We commit suicide.  Various other characters either stay in show business, or do not.  Roll credits.

They pulled the suicide bit out of thin air.  She was self-destructive, sure.  But not suicidal, not then, not there. I think someone rolled a 20 sided die and called out 'You fail your roll against dying.'

Now, let's consider how much better that same film would have been -- with zombies:

We're drunk.  Zombies attack.  We're sober, and how.  The band plays on while the zombies are mowed down.  Zombie Willie Nelson shows up, reeking of cannabis, and the zombies catch a contact high and all gather around a vending machine giggling.  The band sneaks out and travels across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, fighting zombies here, playing shows there.  Heroine sings triumphantly while crowd goes wild.  Even zombies cheer.  Roll credits.

I fully expect to see my version featured on the Saturday night SyFy channel movie of the week very soon.

So I can only give 'Country Strong' a single decapitated zombie head on my six-head scoring system.  By comparison, 'True Grit' gets a solid six, yes six, heads because that movie rocked in every conceivable way.