“Urban Cowboy” (1980)

MOVIE REVIEW: “Urban Cowboy” stars John Travolta (Phenomenon, Pulp Fiction), Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman), Scott Glenn (The Hunt for Red October, Sucker Punch), Madolyn Smith Osborne (2010, Funny Farm), Barry Corbin (No Country for Old Men, WarGames), Brooke Alderson (Just Cause, A Fine Mess), Cooper Huckabee (The Funhouse, Space Cowboys), and James Gammon (The Iron Giant, Major League). It is directed by James Bridges (The China Syndrome, Perfect), who also wrote the screenplay with Aaron Latham (Perfect, The Program). Bud (Travolta), a young man from the country comes to the big city to forge a life of his own, while falling in love with the a woman at a bar.

I try to give films the benefit of the doubt, I really do. When my grandma asked me to watch “Urban Cowboy” with her one night, claiming it would be a fun time, I was happy to come aboard and see it (why dodge a movie night with your grandma anyway?). John Travolta hasn’t really blown me away in the past with the films I’ve seen of him; no, I haven’t seen “Pulp Fiction,” nor have I seen “Saturday Night Fever.” I’m doing the man a disservice, but I can’t help that I get pulled into sub-par/bad movies starring him. I was hoping “Urban Cowboy” would offer me the promise of seeing this highly acclaimed actor fulfilling what he’s been so cherished to do, however I will have to wait a bit longer. “Urban Cowboy” is an exhaustive affair of two people supposedly in love doing things they shouldn’t for over two hours. Story beats play along to various songs performed by Mickey Gilley (a singer no one my age would know), almost to the point where the first half of the feature has very little dialogue and a whole lot of music. Think the beginning of “Up,” but elongate the ten minutes to thirty and replace the elegant piano with some honky tonk country singing (though the songs aren’t that bad). I couldn’t begin to explain how agonizing this experience was. There’s no character development, has a loose story, and an atmosphere I hardly care for in cinema. This isn’t your classic western, but a modern south where all people do is drink, dance, and ride bulls. The funny thing is, that’s really all you get in this…people drinking, dancing, and riding bulls, all to Gilley’s “Here Comes the Hurt Again.” Am I supposed to care for these characters? I would hope the writer/director would want me to, but I just couldn’t. The pacing was quite sporadic, starting off fast and then dragging its feet for the final two acts. Our leads are Travolta’s Bud and Debra Winger’s Sissy, two people with a whole lotta problems. Within the first fifteen minutes they lock eyes, dance, and then marry each other after only hanging out for a few days. I thought it was going too fast, but I soon realized that this wasn’t the story; the story was their struggles in marriage…that came from only having known each other for a few days. It’s a good concept for a comedy, and while they try to inject humor I hardly ever laugh. This film doesn’t really know what the heck it is as it attempts to be serious in its silly idea. To be honest, I don’t know why it’s even called “Urban Cowboy.” We hardly focus on Travolta being a country boy having to get used to city life, and even then the city isn’t much of a city at all. The majority of this flick is filmed in Gilley’s humongous bar that would make you think they’re still in the country (which, by the way, seemed more like a promotional attempt for Gilley rather than a creative choice). I couldn’t stand this picture guys, I really couldn’t. It has a few moments that garner my interest, primarily towards the end, but it seems like everyone just got a little better at their job as production progressed. The chemistry seemed to click more, the acting wasn’t bland, and the conflict was reaching its climax. Of course, this doesn’t mean the final act saved the feature; like I said, the pacing was still slow and by this point I could care less about anything going on. Travolta and Winger try their best, and at times I thought they had good chemistry, but they couldn’t help the poor storytelling. The cinematography was basic, aside from a handful of good shots, and the atmosphere was too enclosed in that dark, uninteresting bar for me to really enjoy myself. As for the music, if you hate country you might as well steer away from this movie. I didn’t think it was terrible, as I stated, but there were songs that I didn’t really like. My country music days have kinda gone, with only a few exceptions in songs here and there. Overall, “Urban Cowboy” is an exhaustive experience to go through. I could hardly stand it and would never put myself through it again. I wouldn’t wish the same upon you, unless you had a loved one who really liked it and wanted to see it with you. While it does improve somewhat towards the end and the lead stars try there best, this is one feature I’d never wanna saddle up in again. FINAL SCORE: 40%= Burnt Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Urban Cowboy” (1980)

  1. Pingback: July Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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