Quentin Tarantino sort of meets Judd Apatow, in the new and in no way improved Coen Brothers’ True Grit. And with an update whether intentional or not, reflecting a much more cynical time and a tendency to ridicule often brutal stuff that is sorry, just not funny.
A tongue in cheek referencing of the decidedly more reverential Charles Portis 1968 western pulp classic and 1969 Henry Hathaway directed screen adaptation, the True Grit remake finds Jeff Bridges as the one-eyed seedy and slightly depraved misfit Rooster Cogburn. And switching it up from John Wayne’s iconic turn with a whole lot more than just an eye patch moving from the left over to the right.
Growling his way through the two hour road movie with saddles, that would seem better suited to a ten minute routine on SNL, Bridges’ couch potato coot roused into reluctant action on the hunt for repeat offender varmints when he’d rather be boozing, wears out its welcome long before the credits roll.
Hailee Steinfeld who seems competent enough but is stuck with stilted lines that give the impression she’s wandered in by mistake from a Charles Dickens Masterpiece Theatre production, is Mattie Ross, a serious minded fourteen year old in a sea of unruly, childish dumbell desperadoes, even when they’re lawmen. Mattie is obsessed with bringing to justice the murderer of her dad, the at-large outlaw Tom Chaney, no relation to Dick, played with more hammy than menacing relish by Josh Brolin.
And Mattie pesters Marshal Cogburn from his assorted drunken stupors to go nab the fugitive and bring him back to the scene of the crime, even though he keeps insisting that the warrant for Chaney’s arrest is for another offense and a different trial jurisdiction. Cogburn finally agrees just to lose the underage nag, and with the stipulation that she can’t tag along. But never no mind, Mattie secretly trails the marshal to that fateful destination, as does designated do-gooder, Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who’s in some sort of competitive mode with Cogburn as to which one will get to the finish line first.
Save for some stunning Roger Deakins cinematography, we’re treated to all sorts of extreme silliness and rowdy over-acting more suited to a French farce or The Three Stooges, and with a fair amount of borderline creepy gore tossed in too. Resulting in the greatest mystery to be solved about this wacky western, as to why there was a necessity to make the movie over again at all.
Paramount Pictures Rated PG-13 2 stars