Monday, June 05, 2006

I Wanna Be Gary Busey When I Grow Up...

Any movie with a corrupt sheriff that terrorizes a small town, para-millitary biker gangs , a good guy with a four-wheel drive pick-up outfitted with metal plates, machine guns and grenade launchers, and set to a hard-driving 80's rock soundtrack automatically rules in my book.

By any normal criteria of cinema, the movie Eye Of The Tiger is technically a lousy movie. But in the genre of "Vietnam-Vets-who-come-back-to-their-hometown-to-fight-the-corrupt-Sheriff-and-Biker-Gang" flicks this one's as good as most that I've seen. The king of the genre of course, is the classic small-town epic, Billy Jack. But then again, Billy Jack didn't have Gary Busey in it.

I think I've decided (with the exception of the coke habit and spousal abuse) that I'd like to be Gary Busey when I grow up. I'll have to set some serious goals if I wanna be a slightly scary, belligerent crazy dude that refuses to wear a motorcycle helmet and talks about Jesus a lot. A guy who can score an Oscar nomination and still have time for movies like Point Break, Predator 2, and adding his voice to Grand Theft Auto, Vice City. And let us not forget the highest honor in entertainment today......a reality television show. And while we're at it, can we all agree that there's no way in hell Mel Gibson could take Busey in a fight?

So here's to you, Gary, stay crazy!

Here's some other films in the "hero-takes-on-the-bad-guys-who-bully-a-small-town" genre...

Billy Jack: The blueprint of the genre, without question. Billy Jack is a classic late-night movie with a half-white, half-Native-American Green Beret who preaches beating the tar out of the bad guys. It's a bizarre, left-wing sermon of a movie among a right-wing genre. Written, directed, and starring Tom Laughlin, who in real life continues to be all over the map as he speaks at self-help seminars, tries to make a new Billy jack movie, and oh yeah, runs for President.

Walking Tall: Very loosely based on the true story of Buford Pusser, a wrestler turned hero turned Sheriff when he decides to take on crime in his small town. Walking Tall went from a ruthlessly violent film trilogy to a short lived television series. Pusser and his baseball bat become the embodiment of bad-ass justice as he smashes crime the old fashioned way. And naturally, the inveitable slick but inferior Hollywood remake has come to pass, featuring..............The Rock.

First Blood: Even as a kid, the first Rambo movie struck me as being one of the most bizarrely irresponsible flicks I had ever seen. Basically it goes like this. If you're a Vietnam veteran turned drifter who feels shunned by society, and you finally hit the last straw when the small town Sheriff with an iron hand and a pack of mean-spirited deputies tell you to get your ass out of town, then it's time to declare war. In an attempt to add meaning to Rambo's rampage, Stallone delivers a classic mumbling speech at the end that makes no sense whatsoever. Just to make sure you got the point, Rambo returned in a sequel where he singlehandedly wins the Vietnam war. Naturally after that, there was nothing else to do but become a kid-friendly cartoon character.

Roadhouse: This movie is a made for late-nite cable classic. I have always wanted to dislike Patrick Swayze, writing him off as a nancy-boy for crap-fest date-movie dreck like Dirty Dancing and Ghost. But dammit, I can't as long as he also does guilty-pleasure movies that kick ass like Point Break and Red Dawn. (and good movies like Donnie Darko) I'll add Roadhouse to his guilty pleasure catalog. It's easy the best zen-philosopher-with-a-degree-who-becomes-a-"cooler"-beating-the-bejeezus-out-of-small-town-thugs movie I've ever seen. Never has a movie created such an idealized image of a bouncer, certainly not like the fat guy with the Slayer t-shirt that most bars hire to roll you out on the curb in a trash can. I can at least take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only member of the Roadhouse cult, as evidenced by the Off-Broadway musical production currently running....

And of course, with the wonder that is syndicated cable television you can bet at least one of these fine classics of cinema is on right now!

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