Film Review: Like A Country Song (dir by Johnny Remo)


So, stop me if this sounds familiar.

You’ve got an old country boy named Bo (played by Billy Ray Cyrus) who, years ago, reacted to a family tragedy by abandoning his wife and son.  He’s spent the last decade on the road, drinking and doing drugs and basically being totally irresponsible.  Now, he’s returned home and he’s trying to be sober and he’s hoping that he might even be able to reconnect with his family.

And then you’ve got Jake (played by Joel Smallbone), who is an up-and-coming country music star.  He’s cocky.  He’s arrogant.  He’s still in love with his ex.  He’s returned home because he’s lost.  He’s also Bo’s son.  Years ago, his mother (Jennifer Taylor), told him that Bo was dead.

So, now, Bo and Jake are both wandering around the same town.  Do you think there’s a chance that Bo and Jake might meet each other?  And maybe Bo’s going to see that Jake is heading down the exact same bad road that Bo’s spent the last few years traveling?

Does that sound just like a country song?

Superficially, yes.  However, there are a few differences.  For one thing, 2014’s Like A Country Song was rated PG-13 and clearly made for a family audience.  That means there’s far less sex in this movie than you’ll find in the average country song.  This is one of those films were characters are described as being wild but they’re also rather chaste.  Jake’s ex (and perhaps future) girlfriend, Becca (Kerry Knuppe), is too busy volunteering to feed the homeless to spend much time doing anything else.

Also, since this is a faith-based film, there’s considerably less cursing to be found here than in the mildest of country music.  I may be mistaken but I don’t think I even heard a single “damn” in the film.  Trust me, I’ve spent a lot of time around country folk and even the most religious of them can turn profanity into an art form.  If you really want to attend a symposium on creative ways to use the f-word in casual conversation, go hang out with a bunch of retirees in Arkansas.

Traditionally, this would be the point of the review where I write about how, despite being from Texas, I’m not a huge fan of country music but actually the music in Like A Country Song isn’t that bad.  Say what you will about Billy Ray Cyrus, he can sing.  So can Joel Smallbone, for that matter.  Neither one is a bad actor, either.  They’re believable as father and son, except for a few instances where Smallbone’s native Australian accent breaks through.

Anyway, this is one of those films that won’t surprise you but it deserves some points for 1) being exceedingly pleasant and 2) not being as preachy as some of the other faith-based films out there.  Though the film was made on an obviously low-budget, it makes good use of its country setting and the cast does their best to bring some life to the material.  It’s a good-natured movie and sometimes, that’s enough.

 

10 Reasons Why Sharknado 2 Was Sharktastic!


sharknado-2-poster

Unless you’ve been living in total and complete isolation, you know that Sharknado 2 premiered on SyFy last night.  And of course, I watched and live tweeted it.  Now, when it comes Sharknado 2, it seems like everyone has one question: Was it better than Sharknado?

The answer?

Yes.  Yes, it was.

Here are 10 reasons why Sharknado 2 was sharktastic!

1) Action!  Action!  Action!

Sharknado 2 didn’t waste any time getting to the point.  From the minute the film started with Ian Ziering and Tara Reid sitting in an airplane that’s hit some sharknado-related turbulence, Sharknado 2 was all about sharks falling from the sky.  The film didn’t waste any time revisiting the events of the previous film or trying to explain, for a second time, how a bunch of sharks ended up in a tornado.  And you know what?  If you were worry about the logic of the situation then you really weren’t the right audience for this film.  Sharknado 2 was a movie for those of us seeking nonstop shark mayhem and it delivered!

2) Plenty of New York Attitude

When the first sharknado hit Los Angeles, we were presented with a portrait of a town that deserved to be destroyed.  I mean — really, Los Angeles?  A little bad weather and a few sharks and your entire population is screaming and fleeing?  New York, however, knows how to handle a sharknado.  It didn’t matter how many sharks fell from the sky — the citizens of New York refused to allow it to stop them from enjoying baseball games, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and seeking out a good slice of pizza.  New York, you’re the tops!

3) Tara Reid Showed Us How To Handle Losing A Hand

I don’t know about you but if a shark fell out of the sky and bit off my hand, I would probably freak out.  Having watched Sharknado 2, I can say that I am definitely not as strong as Tara Reid.  Though she may have lost her hand early on in this movie, she never let it slow her down.  Not only did she defiantly walk out of the hospital but she also managed to drive a fire truck with only one hand!  I’ve got two hands and I don’t think I could do that.  Finally, as a perfect example of how to make lemonade out of lemons, she even replaced her missing hand with a radial saw that, as it turns out, was perfect for fighting sharks.  You go, girl!

4) Ian Ziering Gave It All He Could

In the first Sharknado, Ian seemed almost annoyed to be there.  You got the feeling that he felt that somehow, by appearing in a movie about flying sharks, he was somehow damaging his career.  In Sharknado 2, however, Ian brought a lot of conviction to his role.  Though it may be hard to understand if you haven’t seen the actual film, I’ll just say that you looked at and listened to Ian and you believed that this man had indeed been inside of a shark.

IZ in Sharknado 2

 

5) The Statue Of Liberty Lost Her Head

And you better believe that head went rolling down the streets of New York.  I am a little bit disappointed that Ian never found a moment to stare up at headless Lady Liberty and shout, “You blew it up!  Damn you to Hell!” but oh well.

6) Cameos Galore!

Seeing as how the first Sharknado became a bit of a pop cultural phenomena, we should probably not be surprised that a lot of celebrities agreed to do cameos in the sequel.  What should surprise, however, is just how well the cameos were integrated into the film.  Whether it was Kelly Osbourne getting eaten by a shark or Matt Lauer and Al Roker arguing over the proper name for the storm (eventually, Matt did call it a sharknado and you can see just how happy Al was; it was a touching moment), all of the cameos worked brilliantly and, even more importantly, they didn’t distract from all of the shark mayhem.

7) The Live Tweeters Were On Fire Last Night!

Especially me!  Seriously, Sharknado 2 brought out the best in me.

8) Ian Wasn’t The Only Actor Giving It His All

To be honest, the entire cast brought their A game to Sharknado 2.  Everyone from Vivica A. Fox to Mark McGrath to Kari Wuhrer to Tara Reid to Judd Hirsch to well, everyone seemed to understand that for this material to work, they had to be willing to say some of the most ludicrous lines imaginable with a straight face.  If a single member of the cast had tried to wink at the audience or play up the film’s inherent campiness, the entire film would have fallen apart.  Instead, everyone brought a lot of conviction to their roles.  Instead of mocking the film and their dialogue, you could tell that they were instead having fun with it and, as a result, the audience had a lot of fun as well.

9) Kelly Ripa Stamped On The Head Of A Hammerhead Shark

Proof positive that high heels can be a girl’s best friend.

10) Everyone Watched it!

And you know what that means:  SHARKNADO 3!

Sharknado 2