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Ten Word or Less Review: As fun as cow pie staring.  The mild, mild west.

“Silverado” has been a staple of the home video market for nearly 25 years.  Though only marginally successful when first released, it has been a title consistently at the ready on the shelf, first at video stores, then on DVD and now on Blu-Ray.  No matter how the market changes, “Silverado” goes with it.  To this I can only infer that the determination of western fans is greater than the average person assumes because if the western genre was dead in the 80’s, “Silverado” does nothing to prove it was otherwise.  Its longevity only proves that people dig mediocrity, especially when it has lots of familiar faces and rides a horse.

“Silverado” could easily be whittled down to a 90 minute action/western exercise.  It doesn’t for a minute delve in rule breaking of any sort.  Director Lawrence Kasdan apparently wanted to make an ode to westerns that harkened back to the films of his youth, but divorced from any of the biting social commentary, anti-heroes or subversive character a lot of those films played with.  It has the grand score and the big vistas, the shoot outs and the horse chases, the good guys and the bad guys, but it’s all tiresomely old fashioned and grasps onto conventions of the genre when it doesn’t need to.  The only thing missing, surprisingly, is a pack of Native Americans needing some white people to expose their plight and instill guilt in the audience.  Characters and scenes seem dropped in simply because this type of story demands they be there.  Is there a strong willed woman there wanting to work the land and make a prosperous life?  Check.  Does she serve any purpose to the story what so ever?  Nope.  It she forgotten half way through and barely acknowledged again?  Yup.  There’s a lot of this padding running through “Silverado.”  The first hour of the film plays out slowly, always flirting with being irrelevant, and it never recovers from the lack of story tension.  It’s meant to serve as character building, but none of it builds up to much.

The commonly perceived idea that big names can sell a movie must work in “Silverado’s” favor because it’s got a great cast of pros few films can rival.  Getting top billing is a miscast Kevin Kline.  No one can do quirky and amiable as well as Kline, he’s got an Oscar to prove it, but here he’s saddled with a stoic good guy role that he’s paralyzed when asked to inject life into.  Kline cannot and should not play square jawed hero types which his role fundamentally amounts to.  His character’s only attributes are run of the mill nobility and friendliness.  When did John Wayne ever worry about being friendly?  Riding at his side and fairing a bit better is Scott Glenn, a man with a leathery face meant for westerns.  If Glenn had been born a bit sooner he could’ve been side by side with Eastwood, Bronson or Van Cleef.  Leone would’ve loved his face.  He should be the star of the film, but things are so crowded with dull, unnecessary characters he never breaks away from the pack.  They collectively strangle his bravado.  “Silverado” feels like it was supposed to be about his character, but someone on the other side of the camera decided against that.  A young and thin Kevin Costner gets a showy but minor part as his irrepressible brother.  There was the potential for a great duo here but once again any lasting impression that could be made is cut off because of too much filler.  When it’s finally over Costner’s character barely feels relevant.  Danny Glover hangs around acting humorless and popping out of rocks to save people when they need it.  The next year he would be too old for this shit and would be better off for it.  Brian Dennehy plays the same prick sheriff he played in “First Blood”, except with a different hat.  Jeff Goldblum is here waiting for David Cronenberg to call about that “Fly” remake.  Rosanna Arquette is that afore mentioned woman of virtue with no point.  The list goes on.

I’ve been wondering about “Silverado” for close to two decades.  That’s a long time to think about seeing a movie that turns out to be this uninteresting.  The movie feels like nothing more than tumbleweed blowing by.  If you’re not a boomer aged, western junkie, there’s no need to ride into this sunset.  Watch “Unforgiven” again.


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