Picks and Pans Review: Texasville
The whole point of Peter Bogdanovich's melancholy, much beloved 1971 film The Last Picture Show seemed to be that a way of life was dying. Now he trots out this ill-advised, misbegotten sequel, which suggests that the way of life didn't die but got reincarnated as a particularly dumb sitcom.
The participation of much of the Picture Show cast is a mixed blessing. Bridges, as a megacynical oilman whose business is failing, might be excused for moping through the whole picture. Shepherd, a B-movie actress returning to Anarene, Texas, after her son dies, might have a reason to drone along in a semicatatonic trance. (When she finally shows a bit of emotion, it's with a start, as if she has been bitten by a flea.)
But Quaid, as a woebegone banker, overacts to slapstick levels. Potts, as Bridges's wife (she wasn't in the original), turns lines of ironic despair into mere sarcasm.
Cloris Leachman and Timothy Bottoms, among the returnees, and Angie Boiling and Su Hyatt among the new cast members, are less embarrassing. Everyone, though, is stuck in Bogdanovich's ditsy script (from a Larry McMurtry novel).
First, all the back-references and convoluted relationships will make it hard to follow, even for those who saw The Last Picture Show. Then, while this is a counter-sexy movie, there are frequent allusions to illicit affairs, including a couple that Bridges's 19-year-old son is having with two of his dad's mistresses. The dialogue is full of chortle-inducing philosophizing, such as (Leachman to Bridges): "I think you'd rather go pick on footloose wives than go help a woman you used to love face a tragedy."
Lapses of taste? During a raw egg-throwing battle, one character yells. "I just got gang-egged, or egg-banged or some-thing!" Juvenile wit? Shepherd, seeing a farm couple on TV, says, "They look silly, but I'll bet they're great in the sack."
This is either a tribute to arrested development or it is nothing at all. (R)
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