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Texas Rangers

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Texas Rangers

Starring: James Van Der Beek, Rachael Leigh Cook
Director: Steve Miner
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 2001
Genre: Western

*Also starring: Oded Fehr, Ashton Kutcher, Dylan McDermott, Alfred Molina, Tom Skerritt, Randy Travis, Billy Morton

Review by Edward Johnson-Ott
½ star out of 4

The meek shall inherit the Earth, Mr. Dunnison, but somebody's got to get it ready for them." Leander McNelly, defending his violent methods to his second in command.

"Go with God, McNelly, if the son of a bitch will have you!" Bandit John King Fisher's farewell to the lead Texas Ranger.

"Man, if the studio had made a print of 'Ocean's 11' available in time, I wouldn't have to do a feature review about this drivel." Ed Johnson-Ott, exasperated movie reviewer.

After sitting on the shelf for a long, long time, "Texas Rangers" was finally released last Friday, dumped into theaters with no sneak previews or press screenings and with hardly any money spent on ads. This is generally the sign of a cinematic disaster, as a desperate studio tries to burn off a dud without anyone noticing, but "Texas Rangers" is no disaster. It's simply a crappy Western.

Like "Billy Jack," "Texas Rangers" is about men who try to gain peace for all by killing lots and lots of people. Specifically, the film focuses on a revenge-killing spree done by Johnny Law along the border between Texas and Mexico in 1875.

The most entertaining thing about the film is that it gathers together four TV stars that, despite their cowboy trappings, act exactly the way they normally do on their respective series. Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") plays the Rangers leader, a sullen ex-preacher with a fatal disease and a tendency towards ponderous speechifying. James Van Der Beek ("Dawson's Creek") is Lincoln Rogers Dunnison, a bookish sort prone to intellectualizing and wearing hats to try and cover his massive forehead. Robert Patrick ("The X Files") is a salt of the earth type trying to play by the book and Ashton Kutcher ("That 70's Show") plays a giddy, eager kid tripping over his own feet.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The Texas Rangers are re-formed by McNelly after a string of assaults by bad hombre John King Fisher (Alfred Molina of "The Ladies Man," chewing up scenery like wild) and his banditos. Following a great number of inspirational speeches and extended training sessions for the new guys, they light out after Fisher. Shots of galloping cowboys superimposed over maps depict their journey. The filmmakers clearly love this visual, as they return to it again and again. Or maybe they didn't have any other usable footage.

The production features the stirring music and beautiful landscapes one expects from a Western, but not much else. Its herky-jerky feel suggests that the film was heavily edited, but again, there is nothing overtly disastrous here, just a lame cowboy movie that doesn't warrant your attention. Or mine.

Copyright 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott

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