Before we get into the quality – or lack thereof – of the Toby Keith buddy cop comedy “Beer For My Horses,” we have a bit of semantics to go over.
A movie called “Beer For My Horses” should probably have a lot of horses.
This one doesn’t.
Instead, Keith gets plenty of glamour shots of his beloved, Detroit-based sponsor’s vehicles in front of the camera. That’s fine – we all have bills to pay – but really, you couldn’t get a few horses worked into the plot? There might have been one snuck in the background somewhere that I missed while dozing off through this snoozer, but it didn’t play anywhere near the role the title would suggest.
What you get instead from the movie, co-written by Keith and Rodney Carrington, is 90 minutes of banality that makes “Beer For My Horses” the overwhelming favorite to sweep the Razzies this year.
“Horses,” inspired by Keith’s hit 2003 song by the same name, follows sheriff’s deputies Rack and Lonnie (Keith and Carrington) as they bumble their way through an Oklahoma town fighting crime. For reasons that are completely unknown, a Mexican drug lord leads his cronies into a fertilizer storage area to steal the contents; after the poop goes down, the gang and its leader are arrested by the two cops, who are assisted by Officer Skunk (Ted Nugent, maybe the only enjoyable thing about this movie).
What is a drug lord – dressed to the nines in the middle of Hickville, surrounded by grungy minions – doing here? Why does he give a crap about crap? There is a fleeting mention later on of some drug ring running through the area, but this is never completely addressed, one of several plot holes left gaping throughout this film.
Anyway, the recently separated Rack encounters Annie (Claire Forlani), a high school flame with whom he quickly becomes reacquainted. She becomes the target of the incarcerated Mexican’s brother, who assumes for whatever reason that Annie and Rack are girlfriend-boyfriend after one date and scoops her away to his Mexican hideout.
Hilarity … well, theoretical hilarity … ensues when Rack disobeys orders and treks south of the border with Lonnie to find his lady love (in a vehicle made by his sponsor, of course). Along they way, they meet several “zany characters” who add to their fun – but not ours. The lone appearance worth noting is Willie Nelson as the head of a traveling carnie group; hey, at least he isn’t portrayed smoking pot for once.
From here, you can pretty much guess the outcome. How did they know what house – yet alone what city – in Mexico to go to? How did they, as fugitives of the law, cross the border? Doesn’t matter.
There are plenty of films where you have to suspend disbelief, only those films give you enough entertainment value to overlook the flaws. Not so with “Horses.” I can see where Keith and Carrington were trying to go, but there should have been more humorous moments, more rapport between the two buddy cops and funny moments that were truly funny; one scene in which Lonnie breaks into a rendition of “Shout” with a street gang is funny for a second, but at more than two minutes long it’s quickly run into the ground.
I can’t say any of the performances were especially bad, but the material would make even Sidney Poitier look ordinary. Forlani in particular, who once upon a time seemed to be a shooting star, is slumming it by agreeing to be in this film. Nugent, whose character remained silent through almost the entire film, got a lot out of his facial expressions and actions to be effective as the “muscle.”
How exactly Keith got from a country song to a feature-length film is unclear, but what is clear is that his idea was never meant for the full treatment. It was an honest good effort, but by about the halfway point of “Horses” you’ll be reaching for the horse’s beer as well as the man’s whiskey.
Visit here to read a report on Toby Keith and his level of satisfaction with the film.