I <3 Pure Country. There, I Said It!

Posted by Greg on Sep 8, 2009 in Movies, Op-Ed

As far as films go, there’s nothing entirely breathtaking or awe-inspiring about the 1992 George Strait-fueled Pure Country, and yet for reasons unknown it remains one of my most favorite films. A heartwarming and inspirational yarn about Wyatt “Dusty” Chandler, a country music megastar who drops off tour and returns to his Texas hometown, the film features a veritable no name cast (save for Strait, the only other big star is Friday Night Light’s Kyle Chandler and X’s John Doe) and a by-the-book script.

But for all its simplicity, there’s a good chunk of charm, too. Strait doesn’t stray too far from his now-legendary superstar persona and has a down-home, folksy charm that’s engaging and warm. The support cast is all believable as well and save for a couple corny scenes, there’s little that’s contrived or overblown. A fixture on CMT, Pure Country was a flop at the box office, but has remained at the top of my list for the past 10-15 years.

The film’s real appeal is in its depiction of the Texas landscape and the small towns Strait find himself visiting. When Dusty strikes up a romance with a barrel racer, the plot elevates a little and the subtle turn has a conviction and sincerity that really allows the film to shine. Said barrel racer, played effectively by Isabel Glasser, is a strong and empathetic character, which allows Strait do dig into the role towards the end. Aided by a stellar soundtrack (by none other than Strait himself) and a script with only a couple profanities, it’s as harmless as a declawed kitten.

Pure Country’s director Christopher Cain is the foster father to actor Dean Cain and was the man behind the lens for the Joe Pesci comedy Gone Fishin‘, the Hillary Swank-fueled The Next Karate Kid, 80s triumph Young Guns and the woeful Jon Voigt film September Dawn. With those ho-hum credentials its entirely obvious why Pure Country didn’t win awards or make Ebert and Roeper fawn. But every movie critic, deserves their one guilty pleasure and for this one, its always Pure Country. Always.

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