Ah, the rodeo.
Though they’re not quite as ever-present as people up north seem to assume, rodeos are still a pretty big deal down here in the Southwest. Now, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the rodeo, largely due to the fact that I spent the early part of my life constantly moving from the city to the country to the city and then back to the country again. The city girl side of me looks at the rodeo and says, “That’s a silly tradition that’s dangerous to both the animals and the participants and there’s no way that I would ever let any future child of mine have anything to do with it.” However, the country girl side of me hears the words “rodeo,” and shouts, “Hell yeah!” Seriously, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a handsome cowboy try to ride a bull without getting killed.
And believe me, rodeos can be dangerous. There’s an episode of King of the Hill in which Hank and Peggy take Bobby to the rodeo and Peggy mentions that one of her relatives was sent home from Vietnam because he was having rodeo nightmares. I could believe it. Rodeos are not petting zoos, despite what some people may think. Bulls and broncos can be dangerous when they’re angry and a rodeo clown can only provide so much protection. In fact, there’s some towns that have actually considered baning the rodeo.
Roped takes place in one such town. City councilman Robert Peterson (Casper Van Dien) doesn’t want the rodeo coming anywhere near his home. He argues that the rodeo is unfair to animals and that it corrupts the youth. It’s kind of like Footloose, except instead of banning dancing, the councilman wants to ban a rather foul-smelling carnival in which people are occasionally killed.
Of course, what the councilman doesn’t know is that his own teenage daughter, Tracy (played by Lorynn York) is falling in love with a rodeo cowboy! Colton Burtenshaw (Josh Swickard) is a up-and-coming star on the rodeo circuit and it’s pretty much love at first sight as soon as he and Tracy meet. Of course, this means that Tracy is going to have to defy her father and Colton’s going to have to prove that the rodeo isn’t as bad as everyone thinks that it is. It’s time for laughs, tragedy, love, and sheep. Yes, you read that right.
Anyway, you can probably guess everything that happens in Roped. This is a low-budget movie that’s designed for the “I wish they still made movies like they used to do” crowd and, for what it is, it’s not that bad. It’s hardly a great or even a memorable film but it gets the job done and it’ll appeal to people who have nostalgic memories of the rodeo. There’s not an edgy moment to be found in the film but people looking for edgy movies probably won’t be watching Roped in the first place. It’s a nice-looking film and Lorynn York and Josh Swickard make for a cute couple, in both the film and real life. (York and Scwickard married shortly after making this movie.) Plus — hey, Casper Van Dien’s in the movie! Van Dien’s always fun to watch, especially when he’s playing a well-meaning but misguided authority figure.
As I wrap up this review, one final word about the rodeo: it’s pronounced “roe-dee-oh.” Don’t come down here and say you want to see a “ro-day-oh.” Those clowns can turn on you quickly.