Andrew recommends Urban Cowboy

andy w July 24, 2012 0
Andrew recommends Urban Cowboy

We live in a spoiled age of home video.  Practically every American movie ever made is now available on DVD.  When I was a kid, Urban Cowboy was out of print on VHS.  I couldn’t order it from Suncoast Video, and I couldn’t rent it at any Blockbuster.  Finally, I was able to hunt down a copy at a local video store that’s no longer in service.  While I have seen it many times since, you can imagine my excitement when I saw it as part of the Netflix library.  

This is one of the best movies of the ’80s, and one of my personal favorites.  Released right at the beginning of the decade, when John Travolta was hot off the success of Saturday Night Fever and Grease, Urban Cowboy was quickly regarded as Tony Manero in a honky tonk.  It’s probably a fair assessment, since both movies heavily feature a night club and a hit soundtrack.  But where Saturday Night Fever fails, Urban Cowboy succeeds.  
Travolta was the sole star of Saturday Night Fever, and while he’s definitely an original, the movie lacked something.  Travolta is always at his best playing opposite a strong leading lady.  He had Olivia Newton-John in Grease, Kirsty Alley in Look Who’s Talking, and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.  And here, we are blessed with the (then newcomer) Debra Winger.  That gravelly voice and those large doe eyes, Debra Winger’s Sissy costars against Travolta’s Bud and tears through the screen and right into the heart of her audience.  Yes, Bud and Sissy are their names.  It’s obnoxiously cute.  
It’s not much of a plot-driven movie, but it’s an interesting character study between two young lovebirds who experience the ups and downs of newlywed blue-collar life, while living on the outskirts of Dallas.  Bud’s desire is to master the mechanical bull.  That now-famous famous mechanical bull.  But what happens when Sissy proves she can ride too?  Disaster.  Bud’s problem is that he’s got too much of an ego.  He has to learn, as his Uncle Bob puts it, to swallow his pride.  In the mean time, Bud’s and Sissy’s relationship is catastrophically hilarious.  He honks his truck horn and waves.  She flips him off.  He flips her off back.  
It wouldn’t be a Hollywood romance without the threat of another lover.  Thrown into this mix is a pair of assholes.  The kind God puts on this Earth just to mess with people.  A beautiful but selfish and bitchy sex kitten, Pam, and the evil recently released ex-con Wes.  They’re who Bud and Sissy both hook up with, respectively, after Sissy proclaims she can ride the bull better than Bud.  Who knows why Pam, played by the beautiful Madolyn Smith, would ever want to mingle with an immature man currently suffering a marital dispute, but she’s a rich girl who clearly has a lady boner for cowboys.  And Wes… well, actor Scott Glenn might have created one of the most underrated villains in cinema history.  He’s terrifying.  He gives menacing glances that would put even Clint Eastwood to shame.  
When watching this movie again, the only real negative I noticed was the editing.  It features dissolves a lot and is a bit sloppy in places.  Other than that, it’s technically and artistically seamless.  
Urban Cowboy has everything a romantic drama should.  It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s intense, it’s sweet, and it features two leads that have great chemistry and refreshingly raw personalities.  Don’t take this movie for granted and wait until it disappears from the Netflix selection.  Watch it before it’s taken down.  If you’ve seen it before, it’s fun to revisit.  If you haven’t, you’re in for a heel stompin’, roaring good time.  

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